A patient is a person in a specific medical situation. The term should be used in the context of medical diagnoses and treatments, rather than in general to describe someone with a particular medical condition, as describing people with illnesses only in terms of “patient” does not promote a full picture of that person’s experience or support the ethos of person-first language.
“Person with” or “person being treated for” may be more accurate when writing about a specific person with an illness, and “patient” can be used when describing a group of people or as a general term in a medical context (“the doctor’s patients,” “the number of patients in the hospital”). It’s also important to remember that not every person who has a disability or illness is also currently a patient.
- Do we need a new word for patients? (National Institutes of Health)