Monday, July 27, 2009

Health Care Reform and Retardation

Some are getting upset because the House of Representatives health care reform bill uses the term "retarded".
The New York Post (via Drudge) reports:

The bill refers to: "A hospital or a nursing facility or intermediate-care facility for the mentally retarded . . ."

I don't see what the problem is. "Mental Retardation" is a valid medical/psychiatric term. Other more PC terms such as "developmentally disabled" have a slightly different meaning. The term "developmental disability" includes not only mental retardation but also autism and several other coniditions. There are various legal and medical definitions of developmental disability.

As someone who treats adults with mental retardation as well as autism I use the terms "mental retardation/mentally retarded" and "developmental disability/developmentally disabled", as well as "pervasive developmental disability" when appropriate. These terms all have different meanings and it is important that physicians as well as lawmakers use the correct term in order to promote clarity and precision.

There is no place for politically correct terminology when writing one of the most significant (in a bad way) pieces of legislation in the last 50 years.