Fillers When I use a word

Patient centred verbs

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7360.387 (Published 17 August 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:387
  1. Jeff Aronson, clinical pharmacologist
  1. Oxford

    It is not surprising, in these patient centred days, that some verbs that refer to inanimate objects associated with the patient, are used to refer to the patient instead. I have come across the following uses:

    • The patient was diagnosed with the disease

    • She was explained the seriousness of the diagnosis

    • She was prescribed a course of chemotherapy

    • She was administered vincristine.

    However, it was not the patient but the disease that was diagnosed, the seriousness that was explained, the chemotherapy that was prescribed, and the vincristine that was administered.

    The problem lies in the misuse of the construction known as the indirect passive. Verbs can be either transitive or intransitive—a transitive verb governs an object, whereas an intransitive verb does not. Now some transitive verbs have the luxury …

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