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Do you have a clear timeline when you’re writing about a patient?

Mrs Sood mentioned a headache in the morning followed by nausea and aversion to bright lights in the evening.

Mrs Sood mentioned nausea and aversion to bright lights in the evening following a morning headache.

While the events in these two sentences might be the same, the link between them changes the timeline of events. Let’s look at why.

Writing to a timeline

If we call the headache A and the nausea and aversion to bright lights B then we can see that in the first sentence A is first (in the morning) and B is second (in the evening).

If we use the same letters for the second sentence, we can see that B is written first and A second, but the order of events in time is still the same because of the word following. A happened first (in the morning) and B happened second (in the evening).

When we use followed by the event before the link happens first chronologically and is written first. The event after the link happens second chronologically and is written second. But, when we use following, the event before the link happens second chronologically but is written first and the event after the link happens first chronologically but is written second.

Take the quiz below

Use following or followed by to complete these sentences:

She was admitted to hospital _______ a fall.

He will undergo an MRI scan at 10:00 ________ a chest x-ray at 15:00.