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Hello all,

I am a paramedic and when I write my documentation, Grammarly frequently points out that I am using the passive voice. I have Googled and Binged quite a bit and yet I am still confused. I think I understand the basics of passive versus active voice however I'm not sure that passive is not the better option for medical documentation. A few examples follow.

1. She does not want to see him in the office until the pandemic restrictions have been lifted.

2. Upon auscultation, he is noted to be making noise in his throat.

3. His urticaria and erythema are noticeably diminished.

4. He has not been seen by a physician, nor has he been diagnosed with the flu.

As with most industries, there are certain wording and phrases in medical documentation that are proving difficult to write differently.

I'm not really looking for someone to rewrite the example sentences for me as much as I'm trying to get an understanding of why these examples are in the passive voice and what would make them active voice.


Your help is greatly appreciated,

Chris

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Grammarly is an online computer program. It cannot do what you hope it will. I am afraid you will have to learn the ins and outs of writing with your own brain. An excellent little primer is The Elements of Style.

There is nothing wrong with writing in the passive voice. They warn you against it because beginners tend to be timid, and they use it too much. In reports like yours, the passive is usual and unavoidable, which becomes obvious when you try to change your lines into active:

chrishowell1. She does not want to see him in the office until the pandemic restrictions have been lifted.

1. She does not want to see him in the office until the authorities have lifted the pandemic restrictions.

chrishowell2. Upon auscultation, he is noted to be making noise in his throat.

2. Upon auscultation, I noted that he was making noise in his throat.

chrishowell3. His urticaria and erythema are noticeably diminished.

3. A diminishing of his urticaria and erythema is noticeable.

chrishowell4. He has not been seen by a physician, nor has he been diagnosed with the flu.

4. A physician has not seen him, nor has a physician diagnosed him with the flu.

That said, in most other types of writing it is indeed best to keep an eye on the passivometer, so to speak, and stay out of that rut if you find yourself going there.

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chrishowellGrammarly frequently points out that I am using the passive voice.

They are probably assuming your writing is for an academic essay or for a creative writing class. Not all styles of writing should be characterized by an obsession to avoid the passive voice.

chrishowellI'm not sure that passive is not the better option for medical documentation.

Agree.

chrishowellan understanding of why these examples are in the passive voice

Emotion: tongue tied Because you wrote them that way? I'm not sure what you mean here.

By the way, the third one has a participial adjective (diminished). That's not enough to call it a passive, though the grammar applications usually can't figure that out.

Only the second one is a bit too awkward. You can do that in the active voice easily as Auscultation reveals noise in his throat. But if you prefer the passive, Upon auscultation, noise is heard in his throat.

CJ

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Comments  

A year or two ago, I found that my documentation was inadequate as it relates to grammar (this is not unusual in medical documentation). Incomplete sentence structure, extensive use of abbreviations, etc. were running rampant.

I started using Grammarly to catch things that I had forgotten or had fallen out of practice. And in that context, it works pretty well for me. There are things that I learned in high school over 40 years ago that I have had to look up and go over again. And then there's this passive voice issue that I don't even remember learning about in high school that confused me as it relates to my medical documentation.

I am going to take your recommendation and read The Elements of Style.

Your reply has cleared up some confusion, and I appreciate your help.

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CalifJimchrishowell
an understanding of why these examples are in the passive voice
Because you wrote them that way? I'm not sure what you mean here.

I should have said I don't understand why that sentence is considered passive. I think I grasp the basics; however, it seems like a more complicated sentence structure tends to become more confusing for me.

As it relates to the phrase "Upon auscultation, noises heard in his throat," I understand how it could sound awkward. It's a fairly common way of wording something medical documentation, so it sounds normal to me. I do, however like the way your example reads. I may play around with it some and see if I can lean more towards the active voice in some cases.


I appreciate your reply and help.