Why are we still using the R word?

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    Why are we still using the R word?

    I just read a post on the importance of spelling and grammar when posting as nursing professionals, and it bothers me that as nursing professionals we are still using/posting socially unacceptable terms such as retardation or mental retardation.

    Every week I see a new post about someone "having a mentally retarded patient," or " I don't know if he was retarded, but he might have been." I've even seen a recent nursing resume that listed "worked with mentally retarded patients" under job experience.

    Why, as a nursing profession, would we still be using outdated and offensive words?

    Due to repeated societal abuse and mockery associated with usage of the word, there is now a negative connotation to this word. Nursing professionals should be at the forefront of correct usage.

    Just as one wouldn't say " bring the pitcher of water to the guy who looks Chinese" in reference to an Asian American patient, we should not be using "retarded" or "mentally retarded" any longer.

    The correct term is now, and has been for some time, "intellectually disabled," or "intellectual disability."The diagnostic term "mental retardation" is being eliminated in upcoming classifications of diseases and disorders.

    Please, as medical professionals, consider this, and consider the offensiveness of the r word. Thank you.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 29, '14 : Reason: replaced font
    NRSKarenRN and mrnightinggale like this.

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  3. 33 Comments...

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    I know the term was upgraded to Intellectually Disabled as well; I have been using this for a long as I can remember; I don't use the "r" term. You also have to keep in perspective; unless someone works with technology dependent or Intellectually disabled individuals, or have family members or people close in their circle, they will not be up to date in the terminology...but it's always worth a try to enlighten.
    Selfie and Kipahni like this.
  5. 29
    I think you're blurring conversational speech with medical diagnosis/history. Cognitive disabilities are not my specialty area ... but moderate, severe and profound mental retardation are medical terms with corresponding clinical indications.

    You say these terms "are being eliminated" ... but even that means that the term has been applied as a medical diagnosis up to now/recently/some point in the future.
  6. 34
    There are four levels of mental retardation: mild, moderate, severe and profound. It is still acceptable, professional, ethical and inoffensive to use the term 'mental retardation' in this manner as long as one is not ridiculing anybody.

  7. 5
    For what it's worth, the DSM-V has removed the term "mental retardation" and replaced it with "intellectual disability". While "mental retardation" was at one point a medical term, it is becoming a thing of the past. Or, trying to at least.

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    Had a patient today with a hx of moderate mental retardation. Nice guy. Then dealt with a violent drunk who was not clinically "intellectually" challenged yet was definitely a ******.
    Last edit by Esme12 on Jan 24, '14 : Reason: TOS
    PaulaSullivan, Madras, ShillaBSN, and 3 others like this.
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    Quote from emtb2rn
    Had a patient today with a hx of moderate mental retardation. Nice guy. Then dealt with a violent drunk who was not clinically "intellectually" challenged yet was definitely a *******.
    loled at this big time.. lol; I am not a big fan of euphemism, so won't present my opinion about the original post, but yep, being a RN surely helps us encounter a lot of people, and a lot of them act like a "retard" even if they may not have mental retardation, especially if the hospital serves the "hood". Not saying all poor people are stupid, but education seems to affect person's attitude, language, and mindset differently
    Last edit by Esme12 on Jan 24, '14 : Reason: edited quote
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    The compression release brake, or "Jake brake," is a type of brake retarder used in trucks and big rigs to prevent rapid acceleration on declines and to serve as back-ups to conventional braking system in general traffic situations. They slow the vehicle down. They're known for their huge, obnoxious sound and are actually banned in certain residential areas surrounding common commercial routes. Mechanical engineers selected the word retarder to describe them for its true definition. "Retarded" is defined as: a slowing down, diminution, or hindrance, as in a machine.

    Therefore it makes sense that "mental retardation" is a slowing down, diminution, or hindrance in mental or cognitive functions, right? The definition makes complete sense and if a professional understands basic vocabulary, there should be no problem. Changing the nomenclature because ignorant people overuse appropriate medical terminology is ridiculous if you ask me. What are we going to start calling diuretics "water pills" or heparin "a blood thinner" because that's how the ignorant public perceives it?
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    "Intellectual disability" may in fact be a diagnosis, however, I have met many, many mentally delayed patients who were quite intellectual.

    This seems like an incredibly broad term, that would cover a whole lot of diagnosis. If someone is coginitively challenged, they can still be quite intellectual.

    Just ask one of my former patients who has the function of a 6 year old, but can play classic piano by ear.....

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