consult [medicine]

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peter199083

Senior Member
Mandarin
I was given the impression the noun 'consult' and its interchangeable synonym 'consultation' has two meanings in healthcare contexts:
1. a talk or an examination made by a doctor to a patient in a room;
2. a meeting where doctors of different specialisms discuss and brainstorm solutions to complex medical problems.

Should there be no further information, it is sometimes difficult to ascertain which meaning of 'consult' would be. Is my understanding correct?

edition:typo
 
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  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If there’s a particular nuance in that very specific context – US healthcare – then you need someone in that field to give you a definitive answer.

    In general, a consult is the same as a consultation, as you say.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Maybe I misunderstood? But you specifically refer to healthcare (which is in itself a specific context). And the use of consult as a noun is classed as “North American” usage by Lexico. Also, to the best of my knowledge we’d use the word consultation in this context in the UK.
     

    peter199083

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    To facilitate a more constructive discussion on the second meaning in OP, I hereby refer to a cardiology consultation where
    (a) general internist, family doctor or sometimes another specialist or surgeon ...wishes to have a cardiac specialist (cardiologist) use his or her expertise to evaluate (the patient).
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    A consultation is a meeting between a doctor and a patient. Your second meaning is a case discussion or case conference, not a consultation. The link you give explains the services a cardiologist provides. It does not say that a cardiology consultation is a discussion between doctors.

    That's BE. I have never practised medicine in AE, but I'd be surprised if there was a difference.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I am not a doctor, but I've watched one on TV. :)
    In medical shows, the ER doctor will ask for a surgical consult, a psych consult, etc., i.e. for a doctor from a specialized department to come and consult with the ER doctor on the patient's case.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    It's a long time since I worked in a hospital, but we asked for a surgical or psychiatric opinion. The word "consult" was always a verb in medical BE. I think it still is. My specialist role was to give opinions until I retired. Now I occasionally give colleagues advice - but only when asked. :)
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Perhaps related is the AE/BE difference for consultant. The two listed first in Collins (BE) are not listed in the Random House (AE) while 3 and 4 are common to both.
    consultant/kənˈsʌltənt/n
    1. a senior physician, esp a specialist, who is asked to confirm a diagnosis or treatment or to provide an opinion
    2. a physician or surgeon holding the highest appointment in a particular branch of medicine or surgery in a hospital
    3. a specialist who gives expert advice or information
    4. a person who asks advice in a consultation
    Consult as a noun is listed only in the AE WRF dictionary and not in the Collins entry.
     

    peter199083

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Thank you all for contributing to this thread. As per the OP question on two possible meanings, I just came across a secenario from Grey's Anatomy.

    In the scenario, Dr Addison Shepherd asks Dr Miranda Bailey for a personal favour to examine her female parts. But Miranda misunderstands it as a case discussion. She doesn't get Addison's intention to get a consult as a patient until Allison repeats her request with an emphasis on the subject. Here below is their conversation:

    Miranda: Are you OK?
    Addison: I need a consult.
    Miranda: I'm not working.
    Addison: [Coughs] Miranda. I need a consult.
    Miranda: Oh, no. Please don't say that. Addison, I'm so, so sorry.

    To conclude, the above scenario explains well the confusion that 'consult' as an AmE medical noun could bring about without any specific contexts.

    edition: add 'on'
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    That is a good illustration of the clear difference between AE and BE medical usage. No BE doctor would say "I need a consult". They'd actually be pretty unlikely to say "I need a consultation", although that is what she is asking for. Addison would say "I need some advice", and the advice would be given during a consultation.
     
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