5 Grammar Resources for Medical Analysts and Legal Nurse Consultants

No matter how good we are at grammar, it’s nice to lean on external resources to assist with writing projects. It helps to have assistance with finding the right word or phrase and when you ask, “Where does a semi-colon go again?” 

Here are the five best resources and when to use them:

1. Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White [Book]
The book Elements of Style, commonly called Strunk and White, guides and directs how American English is written and spoken. This book is frequently required for students from grade school through post-graduate programs. When you have grammar or syntax questions, this is the book to reference. It reviews grammar and punctuation and how to phrase something to sound exactly right, regardless of the writing product you are trying to produce.

Tip: Get a copy here for only $5

2. OWL/Purdue Online Writing Lab
Most English instructors and professors refer their students to this website.  It is easy to navigate and maintains the most up-to-date usage of APA and MLA reference styles.  This resource is vital for anyone who needs a guide for writing reports, grants, essays, or papers.

3. Oxford Modern English Grammar by Bas Aarts
This concise resource is great for both British and American English users. The book covers spelling, punctuation, syntax, the proper usage of certain words, and the etymology of a common word.

Tip: Always ask the person you are writing for in which style you should work.

4. APA Style Guide, 7th edition 
Most professions, including medical professions, use the APA writing notation style. This resource is available in both digital and hard copy. It goes over how everything is written from numbers to the use of the Oxford comma. Additionally, it is the definitive resource for referencing articles written for science and medical journals. 

Tip: Always be sure to use the latest edition of the APA Style Guide as the rules change from edition to edition. 

5. English Grammar 101 by Kitty Nash
This website is a simple grammar resource for writers and English as a second language speakers. It reviews basics such as nouns, verbs, and capitalization rules in addition to reviewing troublesome words like lay vs. lie. The website is well organized and very straightforward to use. This is a huge time saver eliminating the need to search the site for buried resources.  

Grammar Assistance Tools: Proceed with caution

While grammar assistance tools like Grammarly and Microsoft Word spelling and grammar check are great tools for your writing, do not rely on them exclusively.  They often find errors where there are not, but more often, they will overlook spelling errors (e.g. “in” vs “inn”), only check the basic punctuation rules, and don’t take into consideration the style you are writing in, like APA or MLA.  Use them cautiously.

5 Proofreading Tips for Legal Nurse Consultants

Copyediting a medical analysis work product for a legal matter differs from copyediting a blog post or white paper.  Aside from grammatical editing, proofreading a work product requires verifying that the information in the work product matches the information that is in the medical records. Accurate documentation is critical for client success.

Legal Nurse Consultants (LNCs) do not always have access to a copy editor to proofread their work products. Attention to detail and concise communication are fundamental skills for LNCs.

Here are five tips to keep in mind while self-proofing your work:

1.) Focus on the details most important to the client

Each client will have a specific set of items and details that are most important to their particular matter. The accuracy of these items is vital. Common items include:

  • Dates
  • Bates references
  • Patient and provider names
  • Product identification and lot numbers
  • Specimen numbers
  • Laboratory results
  • Medication dosages and quantities
  • Times, heights, weights, ages, and other miscellaneous numbers

2.) Self-proof in small batches

Some matters will include large quantities of medical records. Try to proof in small batches, such as per packet of records, or split up large packets. This will help to identify issues such as hyperlink failures or report formatting issues early in the process.

3.) Utilize spelling/grammar check

It is important to run a spelling/grammar check on your work product. Tips for using the spellcheck function include:

  • Quickly access the tool by pressing the F7 key on your keyboard.
  • Ensure the “check grammar” box is checked.
  • The tool may bring up proper nouns or medical terms that it does not recognize that is not misspelled, and it will not always catch words outs of context (Ex: “lumber” vs. “lumbar”).
  • Be sure to use “Ignore All,” “Change All,” and “Add to Dictionary” cautiously.

4.) Date verification

Accurate date representation is imperative in medical analysis. Try approaching date proofing as a separate objective than the spelling and grammar. Tips include:

  • Ensure dates are in chronological order.
  • Look for dates that have extra or missing digits, missing slashes, or are formatted incorrectly/inconsistently.
  • Double-check dates that represent the current year. Sometimes we type the current year out of habit.

5.) Be attuned to your error tendencies

Attune to the errors you tend to make. For example, maybe you tend to misspell “ibuprofen” or to leave the last page off of a bates range. If you find an error, make sure to correct all instances of that error. By pressing Ctrl + F on your keyboard you can search the entire document for all instances of a particular word or name. 

Though proofreading your work product is the final step of the medical analysis process, it is also the most important. It not only guarantees a quality product for your client, but it also creates and maintains a credible reputation for yourself as an LNC professional.