By Ron Cooper
The Word Doctor
Doctors love to scribble into their charts. Patients trust the information to be accurate. But what about clear and grammatically correct?
Here are some notes from medical charts. They’re funny, but on the serious side need revision. Check ‘em out:
1. “Patient was struck by an auto while she was walking across the street at approximately 45 miles per hour.”
The “auto” is the subject of the sentence, not the patient.
Reword: “The auto was traveling 45 miles an hour when it struck the patient walking across the street.”
2. “By the time she was admitted to the hospital, her rapid heart had stopped, and she was feeling much better.”
The patient’s heart didn’t actually stop!
Reword: “She was suffering from a rapid heartbeat prior to admission. She is well on her way to full recovery.”
3. “Discharge status: Alive but without permission.”
Revise: “Patient, still in a fragile condition, discharged himself against my medical advice.”
4. “Patient referred to hospital for repair of hernia by a social service worker.”
A social worker isn’t qualified to perform surgery.
Rewrite: “A social worker referred the patient to the hospital for a hernia repair.”
We all make gaffes in our writing. But the best writers get out the red pen and mark up their prose until they get it right!