Sunday, September 9, 2007

Everyone Makes Mistakes

A common prejudice among today's office workers is that anyone who can use a computer can process information correctly. However, the "dumbing down" of our educational system has led to a nation of people who cannot spell.

Many people -- including doctors -- now spell phonetically. If they spell the wrong word correctly, it will go through a spell checker without any problem (assuming that they even know how to use their word-processing program's spell-checking utility). If they have no appreciation for the rules of grammar, the text they generate can be totally ridiculous. Consider this example, which appeared on a purchase order from a major hospital:

"If service is unsatisfactory we wave the write to terminate contract within 30 days written notice."

Compare the meaning of "We wave the write" to the meaning of "We waive the right" and you will begin to understand how extensive the abuse of the English language has become in the workplace.

With people switching health coverage plans on a frequent basis, patient documentation must now pass through more hands than ever. Misinterpretations can lead to potentially fatal mistakes which are easily passed down the information chain. A healthcare worker's inability to read and process patient documentation -- or make proper use the English language -- poses a greater risk to the patient than ever before.

Next: Inventing Words

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