Banish These Five Terms From Medicine?

Ariel Harsinay


September 26, 2018

4. Diabetic

Cynthia Rissler, the mother of Shane Rissler, says that her son has diabetes, but he is not a diabetic.

"When you are a person who has been diagnosed with diabetes, you're still the same person," she told Diabetes Daily.[8] "Just because you have diabetes it does not mean that the disease is allowed to name you. It can never change who you really are."

Individuals who are averse to the term "diabetic" suggest using "person with diabetes" as an alternative. Rissler is among a growing movement of patients, parents, and healthcare professionals who promote the use of this alternative term to refer to the person with the condition, and on social media it has become exceedingly popular via the hashtag #PWD.

"We don't say paraplegic, we say a person with paraplegia," writes Karen Kemmis in a blog post for the American Association of Diabetes Educators. "Similarly, we don't say quadriplegic for a person with quadriplegia; stroke victim for a person who had a stroke; Parkinson's patient for a person with Parkinson's disease; or diabetic for a person with diabetes. This was long before the notion of being politically correct and long before the terminology of person-first language. It was just the right thing to do. It shows empathy. It shows that we see a person first, ahead of the disease or disorder."[9]

The term "diabetic" is still appropriately used as an adjective (eg, diabetic retinopathy), just not as a noun to refer to the patient.


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