Writing Medical Records

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A study was undertaken both to evaluate how medical students are taught to write patient records and to examine the writing done by doctors. Typical medical records, written by medical doctors, were also evaluated. A single questionnaire was sent to eighty-four medical school professors, twenty law school faculty, and five practicing attorneys. The questionnaire asked how medical records were used and what the legal implications were in authoring a patient record. The medical professionals were also asked how their schools taught medical writing. The questionnaire pointed out that most medical schools teach less than ten hours of medical writing in their curricula and that patient records are not written with an understanding of the various audiences, purposes, and uses for medical documents. Two radiology reports are discussed in terms of their clarity and usefulness for medical and extra-medical readers. The study concludes that medical students should be taught a composing process so that they will understand the audience, purpose, and use for the patient records they write.


Copyright 1986 Baywood Publishing, Journal of Technical Writing and Communication. http://www.baywood.com/

Publisher version of this article is available at: http://www.baywood.com/journals/PreviewJournals.asp?Id=0047-2816

Publication Title

Journal of Technical Writing and Communication

Published Citation

Pagano, M. P. & Mair, D. (1986). Writing Medical Records. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 16(4), 331-342.

Peer Reviewed