A few years ago, I was shopping at a Toys-R-Us store with my friend. I was discouraged by the Lego collection and said, “Wow! They have a lot less Lego sets here than elsewhere.” My friend, somewhat of a grammar expert, immediately corrected me with “fewer.” “They have a lot fewer Lego sets here than elsewhere.” Admittedly, I was rather embarrassed and ego-bruised by my mistake because I should have known better, but it did make me really think about proper grammar and how important it is in our everyday lives. As medical transcriptionists and editors, proper grammar is an important part of the job. While you don’t have to be a grammar expert, it is important to understand proper grammar so that the reports you produce are easy to read, clear, and concise. Here are the top 3 reasons why grammar is important in this industry.
One of the biggest reasons why grammar is important is it proves your professional competence. If you cannot write a grammatically correct resume, cover letter, etc., it’s unlikely you’ll be able to produce accurate and understandable medical reports. Don’t underestimate how quickly your skill set will be judged as inadequate—all it takes is one piece of error-riddled correspondence, or even just a mistake or two.
As a student, you can begin to fine-tune those skills by making all of your written and verbal communication as grammatically correct as possible as you interact with your instructors, peers, etc. It might need to be a very conscious effort at first, but eventually it will become second nature.
It is very important that medical reports are able to be understood by all of the medical professionals who will interact with those reports. Correct grammar can ensure that the proper meaning is understood right away and the patient is properly treated. The age-old ‘Grandpa Grammar’ example applies here:
“Let’s eat, grandpa.” –You’re calling grandpa to dinner.
“Let’s eat grandpa.” –Grandpa IS your dinner.
See? Correct grammar saves lives. When you’re transcribing and editing, this is why considering the context of the information is so important. If your grammar is incorrect and you change the meaning, you could potentially harm the patient.
Easy to Read
Incorrect grammar makes documents take longer to read and understand. Period. If the doctor or nurse or medical assistant has to keep reading something over and over again to understand it, there’s a problem. Correct grammar makes things easy and enjoyable to read. Time is very important when caring for patients and you can play a part in making sure those patients are treated in a timely manner by making sure your reports are accurate.
We hope these insights get you thinking about proper grammar and its importance in healthcare documentation.