Spelling, Grammar, Syntax, Folks


I will be the first to admit that I am not the greatest typist in the world. I make typos, some of which get past my spell check and into blog posts. Then again, they’re blog posts, not medico legal documents.

When I was writing PCRs, I worked hard at making them as professional as possible, because I knew that there could be several sets of eyes looking at them and I didn’t want to look like a fool.

A couple of rules I developed for myself back in the paper PCR days.

First, if I couldn’t spell a word, I’d use another one which I could spell.

I also worked to make sure I picked the correct word. Their, there, They’re or perhaps write or right. English really is a confusing language with synonyms, homonyms, even antonyms abound.

I made sure that I knew the meanings of the words I used. Antegrade, retrograde, Apecies, and so on.

The work I do now involves reading several hundred PCRs a month. I’m constantly amazed at the creative spelling and phraseology used by paramedics. Creative, not in a good way.

I know that there are people who are proponents of college degrees for paramedics, but I’ve always been skeptical. I’ve seen people with degrees, some of them public school teachers, who can’t spell for beans. Or is spell for beings?  Either way, you get the point.

I’m not convinced that paramedics need degrees to practice in the field, but I am completely convinced that part of the paramedic curriculum should include some basic writing classes.

I was reading a report from one agency and the medic wrote that they found the patient in the psychic unit. I wondered to myself if she knew they were coming, who they were, and where they were going to take her.

I could start a list of odd spellings, phraseology, and grammar I find in PCRs, but I’m sure that people would think that I’m making up most of them.

If only.


  1. You should… The ONLY way to get people to actually stop and think is to make them ‘aware’ of the screwups others have made. Humor works for that too! 🙂

    • I would, except that the boss says not to. I do mention it during documentation classes, but only in passing. As I said, a basic English writing skills class would be very helpful for paramedic students. It’s all part of our overall lousy job teaching documentation at both the BLS and ALS levels.

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