GrammarBlog

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Dislocated English

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I had the misfortune (or stupidity, your call) to dislocate my shoulder over the weekend. I took the opportunity to peruse the walls of Newcastle General Hospital's A&E Waiting Room. All patients in A&E are given a category numbered one to four; category one is for patients with life threatening conditions, while category four is the hammered moron who has yet to realise that A&E is not a toilet. To my disgust, there were glaring errors, both syntactically and semantically in categories 1 and 4. Allow me, if you will, to share the details:
Category 1
These patients are requiring immediate treatment as their life is, or has the potential to be life threatening. These patients are seen first.

Good to know that those patients whose life (not condition) is life threatening, are seen first. Essentially what you're telling me, then, Newcastle General Hospital A&E Waiting Room, is that psychopaths are seen first. Or at least the potential ones. I see no problem there. I felt distinctly Category 1 after reading the description.
Category 4
These patients are well enough or have minor injuries which will wait in turn to see the doctor until all the above mentioned categories have been dealt with.

Since when have injuries had to wait in turn to see the doctor? Surely it would be a good idea to deal with the patients in a given category rather than the categories themselves.

Clearly the descriptions of categories 1 and 4 were written by the mentally incapable.
3 Comments:
Blogger Tom said...

Interesting use of the present progressive tense:

"These patients are requiring..."

Odd. Confusing the present indicative with the present progressive is usually the result of English being someone's less-than-fluent second language.

27 June 2007 at 09:24  
Blogger Paul said...

"What it is that I am saying to you"

27 June 2007 at 09:27  
Blogger Gez said...

IApart from the tense errors, think it's a classic case of poor instructions. Why give instructions in the form of a vague narrative?

"the patients sat here will almost certainly be seen by a doctor ahead of other patients who may have a more urgent need for attention..."

Stupid, flowery, unclear and unfocused bunch of knobs.

I'm getting riled now.

Instructions, especially ones given to people foolish enough to have ended up in A&E (present company excepted), should be clear and concise. For example:

"Sit here if YOU are well enough or have sufficiently minor injuries to wait to see the doctor."

27 June 2007 at 18:04  

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