Edit the editor: How would you correct these sentences?

An editor shares some problematic sentences and the way in she fixed them. Do you agree?


This week has been a rough one for editing. From pronoun/antecedent mismatches to sentences that are a parsec long, it seems like I’ve corrected every possible writing error.

So, I thought I would call on the collective experience of Ragan.com readers. How would you fix the following sentences? I’m sharing what I did with them; do you agree? What would you have done?

1. But having a discussion on end-of-life issues could well be the most important discussion you, as a physician, ever have with your patient; helping them through this process allows your patient to think about exactly what they would want done “if …” Inevitably, “if” will happen to everyone.

As a physician, some of the most important discussions you have with your patients may be about end-of-life issues. Helping patients through this process allows them to think about what they want done “if . . .” Inevitably, “if” will happen to everyone.

2. If known in advance, the physician should discuss their concerns with the patient and offer to transfer their care to another physician who is willing to carry out their wishes.

If known in advance, the physician can discuss his or her concerns with the patient and offer to transfer the patient’s care to another physician who is willing to carry out the patient’s wishes.

3. Instead, he waited to call his physician in the morning; when he was seen he had developed a new, loud murmur, diagnosis new mitral valve prolapse; plan admit to cardiology at a tertiary center about 50 miles away, no beds available, patient sent home with instructions that the hospital would call him when a bed was available.

Instead, he waited to call his physician in the morning. When he was seen, he had developed a new murmur and was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse. The plan was to admit the patient to a tertiary care center 50 miles away. However, there were no beds available, so the patient was sent home. The hospital would call him when a bed became available.

4. The company continues its string of financial success as results for 2011 were very strong, particularly given existing market conditions.

Despite existing marketing conditions, the company continued its financial success with strong results for 2011.

5. Without an original consultation note there is no way to know what the surgeon’s evaluation encompassed or what was discussed with the family as far as the options or his plan.

Because there were no notes taken during the surgeon’s initial evaluation of the patient, it was unclear what occurred or if the treatment plan was discussed with the family.

6. We do not forget and we will always remember and will point out in the history books of our area’s medical story — the impact that both organizations have had and helped each other in our times of need and will continue to be intertwined in the future.

The history books that chronicle our story will describe how we helped each other in our times of need. And we will continue to be intertwined in the future.

Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor. She is also author of the blog Impertinent Remarks.

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