October 15th, 2012 .

Running on about Health Care

Pat Morden

Much of my work takes place in the fascinating and ever-changing world of healthcare. Most recently, it has focused on the community sector.

Last week, there was great concern in the sector over a public report issued by the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) recommending that Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) be abolished and their work moved to other parts of the health system. I read the report with great interest, in no small part because one of my largest clients is a CCAC!

It was clear that the RNAO had invested in the services of a reasonably good writer, and the document definitely had its moments. But then I came across this:

“For example, the Central CCAC reported increased revenues of approximately 3.8% between 2010 and 2011, however, the purchasing of client care decreased by approximately 1.5%. This is not an isolated incident as the Central East CCAC reported a revenue increase of approximately 3.3% between 2010 and 2011, however, the purchasing of client care decreased by approximately 10.6%.”

Of course, both are run-on sentences. Two independent clauses can’t be made into one sentence by adding a comma or the conjunction “however.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking — “Big deal, the meaning is clear, and the run-on sentences are just a technicality.” But here’s the thing. The grammatical errors distracted me from what was being said. Moreover, the long and unwieldy sentences obscured rather than highlighted the message. Four short sentences would not only have been correct: they would have been more effective.

This document was designed to persuade and prompt action. Personally, I’m glad it wasn’t particularly effective. But the last thing the organization needed was for readers to be distracted by errors or lost in convoluted constructions. My advice? KISS. Short sentences. Subject, verb, object. If you do that, it’s hard to go wrong.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>