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February 1981

Grammar and Medicine

Author Affiliations

Oyster Bay, NY

Arch Surg. 1981;116(2):251-252. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1981.01380140095028

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To the Editor.—The editorial "The Surgeon's Assistant: Training and Grammar" (Archives 1980;115:243) haunted my memory. The word "grammar" troubled my mind and compels me to detail my experience of grammatical incongruities as seen in hospital and other medical records. Over the past several decades, I have had occasion to read hundreds of these charts for medicolegal evaluation. Often a surgeon's operative report leaves much to be desired as a written document prepared by a learned person. Progress notes, medical order instructions, consultation requests and their answers would often leave only a puerile residue if the medical knowledge therein was extracted.

Spelling of common words is often erroneous, with many nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs used improperly. Among the words frequently misused are the following:

"Affect" for "effect": affect means to influence; effect means an end result, something brought to success, completion, or conclusion.

"Apt," "likely," and "liable" are used

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