Lawyers Can Help with Health Literacy, Too (HLOL #148)

Trudeau-faculty picture-touched upChristopher Trudeau is a Professor at Western Michigan University, Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He is one of the leading advocates on health literacy and the law and widely recognized as an expert on informed consent. Trudeau often speaks to audiences of health professionals, or lawyers, or both about creating processes to not only engage patients but also protect healthcare organizations.

In this podcast, Christopher Trudeau talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Why lawyers are starting to be more aware of, and engaged with, health literacy
  • How lawyers can use plain language to protect their clients while also helping patients understand medical-legal information
  • Ways that public health professionals, clinicians, and others can start working with lawyers to make health messages clear

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters: 1, 4, 12, 27, 28, 30.

Read the written transcript.


  1. Amy Endrizal says

    I really appreciated this episode and completely agree with Prof. Trudeau that the attachment to professional jargon is multidisciplinary. “Legal-ese” and “medical-ese” sometimes need to yield to language that the layperson understands. I’m a little surprised that patient-friendly language has been so long to arrive in health care, considering that an easily understood, well-written agreement benefits patients and providers.

    Having worked for many years on the legal staff of a state court (and now finishing up my MPH degree concentrating in behavioral science/health education), I worked on dozens of cases pitting insureds and insurers against each other over personal insurance contracts such as auto and homeowner’s coverage. These are inherently NOT win-win situations. Nevertheless, insurance companies have shifted to policy language that a layperson can more easily understand. Maybe there is more incentive for insurance companies to forgo the jargon when, in interpreting the meaning of a policy, the law construes any ambiguities in favor of the insured. I wonder whether the same is true for medical-legal agreements–or whether it should be.

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