5

I'm wondering if this is correctly spelled or is there something wrong with the phrase itself.

Patient will be placed on IV steroids with compression stockings for lymphedema should physical therapy be cleared by cardiology for manipulation of that region. Documentation of spinal fluid will be obtained under fluoroscopy. Her glucose and blood pressures must be carefully monitored.

The question they ask me is :

How will lymphedema be controlled should physical therapy be undertaken?

Are they missing some commas or it's just me not being able to read this correctly. Asking this because, from what I understand, the lymphedema will be controlled with "IV steroids with compression stockings". But, how about the "compression stockings for lymphedema should physical therapy be cleared by cardiology for manipulation of that region". I'm really confused.

4
  • 1
    Who is "they"? Did you write the first bit, or is this a test (and if so, would those taking it be expected to understand whether or not steroids are used to treat [or could possibly worsen] lymphedema)? – Jon Hanna Jan 2 '15 at 20:31
  • Everything appears to be correctly spelled. But is it correct? No, since it is not clear. And especially medical instructions should be clear. (But I presume that this is a test to see how well you can interpret poorly-written instructions.) – Hot Licks Jan 2 '15 at 20:56
  • @JonHanna it's from an english course assignment, I didn't write this. – Eduard Jan 2 '15 at 23:25
  • 1
    I could be fooling myself, but a main issue seems to be the passive voice of the paragraph. This is hard to avoid sometimes(especially in certain disciplines,) but it's a pretty good illustration of how trying to write paragraphs while doing as much as possible to avoid mentioning subjects impedes readability. – rschwieb Jan 3 '15 at 12:27
6

From the point of view of English, the first part of this is ambiguous. It could mean that the patient will be on IV steroids in any case, and only if cleared by cardiology will she also have compression stockings for lymphedema. Alternatively, it could be that both the IV steroids and the compression stockings are intended for lymphedema and are contingent on being cleared by cardiology.

From the point of view of medicine, I think the first reading is more likely, because IV steroids are more likely to cause lymphedema than to alleviate it.

Actually, now that I think about it some more, there's a third reading, in which only the compression stockings (not the IV steroids) are "for lymphedema", but both are contingent on cardiology clearance.

Maybe we need a new stackexchange site for "medical language and usage".

5

The OP contains a lot of medical jargon which, obviously, is directed to health care professionals. Let's try to make it clearer, so you can understand it.

  • Patient will receive intra-venous steroids.
  • If a cardiologist sees the patient and she is cleared for manipulation of her lower limbs, compression stockings must be worn to alleviate lymphedema.
  • Spinal fluid will be obtained for analysis under X-ray guidance.
  • Blood glucose levels and blood pressure must be carefully monitored.

Or, if you want to keep the same structure, I've added some commas and substituted a few words.

Patient will be placed on intra-venous steroids. Compression stockings to alleviate lymphedema, if physical therapy is cleared by cardiology for manipulation of that region (lower limbs). Documentation of spinal fluid will be obtained under fluoroscopy. Her glucose and blood pressure must be carefully monitored.

3
  • The second bullet could be construed as an answer, but you don't really address the grammar or punctuation. – DCShannon Jan 2 '15 at 20:53
  • I believe this is one possible valid interpretation, but as Andreas' other answer shows, there are other possible interpretations as well. It is unclear. – Lynn Jan 3 '15 at 3:17
  • 1
    I think this is the correct interpretation, but the original version is ambiguous - a comma after the word "steroids" would remove the ambiguity (but, obviously, change the meaning if your interpretation is not correct). – nnnnnn Jan 3 '15 at 6:25
3

I'm not a medical professional and I don't know what that sentence actually means, but just based on the grammar I think that it's probably correct the way it's written. In which case it would be you "not being able to read this correctly", but it's definitely a confusing phrasing.

You might rewrite that first sentence like this:

Should physical therapy be cleared by cardiology for manipulation of that region, the patient will be placed on IV steroids with compression stockings for lymphedema.

Or, more radically:

If cardiology clears physical therapy for the manipulation of that region, the patient will be placed on IV steroids with compression stockings for lymphdema.

After reading over the accepted answer I see a second possible meaning, but if this second meaning is the intended one then I would say that they are missing commas, rather than you reading it incorrectly. Here's a rewriting consistent with that second meaning:

Patient will be placed on IV steroids, and also given compression stockings for lymphedema if cardiology clears physical therapy for manipulation of that region.

2
  • 1
    In my opinion it is ambiguous whether or not cardiology's clearance applies to both the IV steroids and the stockings. My guess would be that the IV steroids are intended as a separate point and the original sentence should've had a comma after the word "steroids". (From my minimal medical knowledge I believe IV steroids could cause lymphedema, so that supports the idea that a comma would've been correct, however the OP did say this is part of an English course, not part of a medical course, so...) – nnnnnn Jan 3 '15 at 6:23
  • @nnnnnn I suppose you could interpret the sentence that way, but if that's the case then I think it's written incorrectly. I updated my answer. – DCShannon Jan 5 '15 at 18:11
1

Here is what I would say ( although it's a bit more verbose and doctors do like to keep things to a minimum ) The bullet point illustrate that some facts are unrelated.

  • Patient is to be placed on IV steroids.
  • Assuming the patient is cleared for physical therapy (by cardiology) compression stockings will be needed for lymphedema.
  • Documentation of spinal fluid will be obtained under fluoroscopy.
  • Her glucose and blood pressures must be carefully monitored.
1

Should can often be used in place of 'if.'

Patient will be placed on IV steroids with compression stockings for lymphedema if cardiology clears physical therapy for manipulation of that region.

The question becomes:

How will lymphedema be controlled if physical therapy is (to be) undertaken?

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.