Tag Archives: Wrong word Choice

Writing Pet Peeves

Okay, this may be a rant – sorry if it sounds like one.

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I’m reading the brand new release of one of my all-time favorite authors and I found a mistake a fact-checker should have caught. This is the second time in a week I’ve found this particular mistake – the other was in an older book by a different fav author.

What the heck has happened to  fact checkers in the publishing industry? These are not self published books where I would expect to find errors – these are from two of the BIG 5!! Here’s the mistake – remember: it’s the same one I found in two different books: both writers used the word PRONE to denote a person lying on their back, face upward. WRONGWRONGWRONG!!! SUPINE means lying face upward, prone means lying face downward. Why does this bother me so much, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

When I was in nursing school in the late 1800’s (!) we used to write our nursing notes by hand. It’s all done electronically now. I wrote a note once on a comatose patient that read  “Pt. appears comfortable and is lying prone in bed.” I got reported to the Director of Nursing by the patient’s doc and a written warning note was placed in my academic file. Why? Because the patient had a tracheostomy tube and was on a ventilator and there was no way on God’s green earth he could have or should have been laying prone ( which means on his stomach) because he wouldn’t have been able to breathe. And the reason I got written up was because if the patient’s family had ever sued, the legal chart would have gone into evidence and court and I would have looked incompetent ( as would the hospital) for placing the patient in position that obviously could have killed him. The note should have read : “Pt. appears comfortable and is lying supine in bed.”
Here’s the easiest way to remember the difference ( if you don’t have a dictionary handy) “When you are SUPINE you are looking up at the PINE trees, ergo, you are on your back. When  you are PRONE you have you face pointed downward, or as I remember it: Face PLANTED downward.

Got it??

I’ve got more writing pet peeves, but this is enough negativity for one day. Do you have any? Let’s discuss, because I know there are thousands!!!!

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