After proofreading thousands of LNC reports, I prepared this list of 5 grammatical mistakes in LNC reports. This is a list of common offenders.
Do you want to present yourself a well-qualified communicator, one who understands how attorneys scrutinize every word in a report?
Here is what NOT to do.
1. Don’t confuse possessive and plural
Not sure when to use an apostrophe? Plurals mean you are referring to more than one. Possessive means you are describing ownership. I know many people who can’t figure out the difference between these two.
Wrong: “She was responsible for restocking the intensive care units equipment.”
Right: “She was responsible for restocking the intensive care unit’s equipment”. If you can rephrase it as “the equipment of the intensive care unit”, it is possessive. If you are referring to several intensive care units, you’d type, “the intensive care units’ equipment. The apostrophe goes after the s in the plural “units”.
Don’t add an apostrophe to a plural word unless you are using the possessive form. It is incorrect to type, “Margaret Taylor was the manager of several intensive care unit’s.”
2. Don’t mix up hyphens and dashes in your legal nurse consulting reports
This is another sign of an inexperienced writer. What’s the difference between a hyphen and a dash?
Hyphens punctuate words.
They link smaller words to make compound words: 66-year-old
They link an adjective before a noun: month-long orientation
Dashes punctuate sentences.
They make a detour around the main idea of a sentence to add an aside. Use two dashes in a sentence if the interruption comes in the middle of the sentence.
“The certified nursing assistant–who spoke limited English–could not read the care plan.”
A dash is twice as long as a hyphen. Note there is no space before and after either a hyphen or a dash.
3. Don’t use insure, assure and ensure interchangeably
Although these words sound alike, they are different and have different meanings.
Insure means to protect against loss.
Assure means to pledge or give confidence to people. (Reassure has the same meaning.)
Ensure means to guarantee or make certain.
- You contact an insurance carrier when you want to insure your car.
- You talk to the attorney when you want to assure him the case is defensible.
- You speak to the paralegal when you want to ensure you receive all of the medical records.
4. Don’t confuse principle and principal
Principals are people. You dreaded being sent to the principal when you were in school. The principal was not your pal. A principal is a person in control.
Principal also means main or primary. “Our principal need is to be sure we have named all of the possible defendants.”
Principle is a rule or guidebook. “It is against my principles to not refund the unused portion of a retainer.”
This is an example of using both words in the same sentence: “The principal of the law firm asserted that the firm would not violate its principles.” Got it?
5. Correctly use colons
Colons tell your reader to come to a stop. Use them to introduce a list, such as a list of medications.
Mr. Guthrie received prescriptions for these medications:
Don’t put a colon after a verb or the object of a preposition.
Incorrect: Please email me: the name of the anesthesiologist, scrub nurse and circulating nurse.
Correct: Please email me the names of the anesthesiologist, scrub nurse and circulating nurse.
The part before the colon must be able to stand alone as a complete sentence.
Also correct: Please email me the information I need to complete my analysis: the names of the anesthesiologist, scrub nurse and circulating nurse.
Were any of these 5 grammatical mistakes in LNC reports new to you? Pat Iyer presents more great writing tips in our webinar, “Get More Clients With Your Top Notch Writing Skills”. Watch the replay here.