Sunday, September 9, 2007

Conversational Versus Written Language Styles

Physicians who cannot differentiate between the lack of structure in conversational or stream-of-consciousness speech and the tighter editorial demands of a written report will frequently dictate reports that are extremely confusing. Consider the case of the physician who, in trying to describe how he administered succinyl choline to a patient, dictated the following:

"So then I gave her three more sucks."

Often, a physician will dictate a sentence which sounds perfectly fine in conversational mode (where certain terms might be understood). However, misplaced modifiers and dangling participles can cause a physician's words to take on a very different meaning when they appear in print.

The longer one transcribes, the easier it becomes to spot weak points in a doctor's dictation. After a while, certain types of mistakes are easily identified:

  • Run-on sentences

  • Homonyms

  • Homographs

  • Abbreviations and acronyms

[Language Skills Worksheet #5 ]

Next: Run-On Sentences

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