How Important it is to Make Use of Correct Tenses to Describe Todays Visit

English tenses are simple. Yes, you need to know this. Of course, anyone with poor command over the language struggles to write grammatically correct. But, sometimes, even healthcare professionals with good knowledge of English and tenses commit mistakes which altogether create a big problem. 

Which tense shall you use in order to describe events from today’s visit?

It is important to make use of the right tense. Remember, when it is about today’s visit, you are describing a completed event or a past event. However, you may not be making use of just a past tense to describe everything.  

This might sound confusing for you where to use present tense and where to use past tense. Here, we have given some tips which can help you decide which tense can be appropriate to describe everything about today’s visit.  

Past tense

You can use past tense to describe the details which include but not just limited to some important signs which were definite or much more accurate at the time of the visit.  

For example:

  • Aside from hypertension, the patient denied family history for heart disease. 
  • On examination, the patient's abdomen was painful. 
  • The patient was well until 11pm 
  • The pain was not noted to radiate. It is noted even noted to increase with exertion.
  • The patient denied diaphoresis, nausea or vomiting, 

Present Tense 

You shall make use of the present tense if you are describing lifestyle choices. 

For example: 

  • Mr. Hopkin takes 5 glasses of wine daily. 
  • The patient smokes 6 packs of cigarettes a day.  
  • He wakes up free of pain 
  • The patient shows no history of cough, asthma, wheezing, pleurisy and hemoptysis. 

Present perfect

So, when shall you make use of the present perfect?

You shall make use of present perfect tense to describe unresolved situations or events. 

You can talk about improvement in patient’s health or deterioration in the condition of the patient making use of present perfect. 

For example:

Since his last visit, Mr. Bryon’s pain levels have decreased from seven to five. 

There is nothing wrong in making use of more than one tense while you are writing a referral letter. But, you just need to make sure that you use the most appropriate tense which aptly describes the event, situation or the health of the patient, lifestyle of the patient etc.  

Remember use of wrong tense can alter the meaning and can confuse the readers.   

If you are not certain of making use of tenses in the right way, then it is recommended that you shall spend some time learning or improving your grammar. 

There is a big difference between the following sentence:

  • She smokes three packs of cigarettes daily (present tense)
  • She smoked three packs of cigarettes daily. (past tense) 

This might give wrong information. And wrong information in the healthcare sector may even mean a lot. It may affect treatment and all other medical aspects.  So, as a nurse, you will have to be proficient in making use of correct English grammar. 

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