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The English corner is happy to introduce the second issue of “Crazy Doc”. This issue deals, again, with history taking. Unfortunately, Crazy Doc has messed it up. Do you think you'll be able to correct the anomalies and language mistakes highlighted and numbered in this extract from a consultation? The correction and explanations can be found in the box that follows the text.

You will get the full original text plus the video of the history taking on www.whatsupdoc-lemag.fr as well as complementary information, exercises and a funny video on history taking. We would like to remind you that our aim is not to teach medicine but to familiarise readers with medical English as used by professionals and patients.


Nurse: Right or wrong1, let’s get started. Will2 you mind if I checked out some details first?

Patient: No, not at all. What do3 you like to know?

Nurse: I’d just like to shake4 your name and birth5 and see if your ankle bracelet6 is correct. Can you tell me your last7 name, please?

Patient: Yes, it’s Doreen Mary Chad and my date of birth is the fifth of June nineteen twenty-three. Quiet8 a while ago, didn’t it9?

Nurse: Not so long ago. Time goes very fast when you’re busy, won't it10? Right, now, let’s see. Doreen Merry11 Chad. C-H-A-D. That’s correct, hasn’t it12?

Patient: Yes, that’s right. Chad with a D.

Nurse: And your date of birth is the fifth of June nineteen twenty-three.

Patient: Yes.

Nurse: All right. Can you tell me why you’re here today?

Patient: Well, I’ve got high blood tension13, and I’m here for some tests. My doctor asked me to come here to see what’s on-going14.

Nurse: OK, now I’d like to ask you about your future15 medical history. Have you had any serious illnesses in the past?

Patient: Yes, I had a massive16 heart attack last year. It was quite frightening.

Nurse: Yes, I’m sure it was. Now, what about past military17 history? Have you ever had any operations?

Patient: No, I’m very lucky, I never did18.

Nurse: That is unlucky19. Now, are you taking any medications at the moment?

Patient: Yes, my doctor put me on some blood pressure tables20 after my heart attack.

Nurse: Do you know what they are called?

Patient: I don’t know, but I’ve got them here with me. I was too old21 to bring them.

Nurse: That’s good. Do you think you can show them to me, please?

Patient: Yes, I may22. I’ve got them somewhere in my bag. Here they are. I take them in the evening23 with breakfast.

Nurse: Right, that’s fine. You’re taking Metaprolol to increase24 your blood pressure. I’ll just write down the name of the medication on the mission25 form. Metaprolol. Do you have any allergies against26 any medications?

Patient: Not that I know of.

Nurse: What about food allergies? Any person who27 doesn’t agree with you?

Patient: No, no, nothing like that.

Nurse: Good. Are you allergic to sticking pasta28 or iodine?

Patient: No, I’ve never had any problems before.

Nurse: All right. Can you tell me the name of your next of skin29?

Patient: It’s my son, Jeremy. Jeremy Chad.

Nurse: Thanks. That’s all for me. I’ll leave you here for a couple of hours30 while I get the missing doctor31 to come and see you. Are you comfortable?

Patient: Yes, thanks. I’m quite all right here.


  1. Right (= bon, bien – amorce de conversation): Right or wrong is used to indicate whether an answer is correct or not (= vrai ou faux)
  2. Would you mind…? (Est(= est-ce que ça vous dérange… ? – formule de politesse pour obtenir l’accord du patient au début de l’anamnèse) : Here, the conditional form is required as it is followed by the modal form of the preterite (“if I checked”). Will expresses too much certainty and cannot be used in this context. 
  3. What would you like… (= qu’aimeriez-vous…): Once again, the conditional form is required here. The simple present (“do”) is not compatible with a modal context. 
  4. Check (= vérifier): Shake (= (= secouer) does not make sense here.
  5. Date of birth (= date de naissance): As opposed to “birth” (= naissance). 
  6. Identity bracelet (= bracelet d’identification): The scene is set in a hospital not in a prison (ankle bracelet/monitor = bracelet électronique)! 
  7. Full name (= identité): Which includes the person’s first name ((= prénom) and last name ((= nom de famille). 
  8. Quite a while ago (= ça fait pas mal de temps) : Quiet is an adjective which means “calme, tranquille”. 
  9. Isn’t it? (= n’est-ce pas ?) : This is a question tag which corresponds to the verb form used in the previous sentence “my date of birth is”.”. Question tags are very commonly used in spoken English especially in the history taking to seek confirmation of the preceding statement. For more information, visit the online page. 
  10. Doesn’t it? (= n’est-ce pas ?) : see 9.
  11. Mary: Merry means happy as in “merry Christmas” (=” (= joyeux Noël). 
  12. Isn’t it (= n’est-ce pas ?) : See 9.
  13. Blood pressure (= tension artérielle): Tension can be used in English but in a different context “The tension between Russia and Ukraine is rising”. 
  14. Going on (= ce qui se passe) : On-going is an adjective that means “en cours”( “an on-going study”).”). 
  15. Past medical history (= antécédents médicaux): Future medical history corresponds more or less to a patient's prognosis. 
  16. Mild (= bénigne, légère): Massive is an adjective which means “severe”. The patient would probably not have survived a massive heart attack. 
  17. pastPast surgical history (= antécédents chirurgicaux): Military operations have nothing to do with our medical context.
  18. Have: This is a short answer. It uses the same auxiliary as the one in the preceding sentence “have you ever had?”.?”. For more information, visit the online page. 
  19. That is lucky (= quelle chance): Unlucky is the opposite and is not logical here (see “No, I’m very lucky”). 
  20. Tablets (= comprimés) : Tables is used in a medical context in research articles (= tableaux). 
  21. I was told (= on m’a demandé): I was too old (“(= j’étais trop âgée”).). 
  22. Yes, I can (= oui, je le peux) : This is a short answer. See former US president Barak Obama and 18. 
  23. Morning (= le matin): Evening (= le soir) is impossible here because the patient takes her medication with breakfast (= petit déjeuner).
  24. Lower (= faire baisser):), Increase (= (= faire monter). Lower is a synonym for “decrease”. 
  25. Admission form (= formulaire d’entrée): The patient is definitely not on a mission!
  26. Allergies to (= allergies à): This is a collocation, “against” is not to be used here. 
  27. Any food which doesn’t agree with you (= y a-t-il des aliments que vous ne tolérez pas ?): This is completely different from “Any person who doesn’t agree with you” (= y a-t-il des personnes qui ne sont pas d’accord avec vous ?).
  28. Sticking plaster (= sparadrap):), sticking pasta (=(= pâtes qui collent). 
  29. Next of kin (: is a set phrase which corresponds to the closest family member one has chosen =(= parent le plus proche): The next of kin can be different from the contact person (= personne de confiance) who may not be related to the patient. 
  30. A minute (= un instant):), A couple of hours (=(= deux ou trois heures).
  31. Admitting doctor: The admitting doctor is in charge of deciding whether a patient needs to be hospitalized or not. He/she had better not be missing!
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