May 10, 2024

Patients vs Patients: The Subtle Differences in Medical Context

We enter the medical field, mental preparedness is essential, especially when multiple patients are involved. The capability to handle numerous patients effectively in a healthcare setting is undoubtedly a skill honed over time.

Understanding the Patient and the Patients

In the medical world, we refer to a person undergoing treatment as a 'patient'. However, the scenario will often necessitate the invocation of a plural—a realm of several 'patients'. A simple addition of –s or –es to the noun suffices to indicate multiplicity. The phrase "There are many patients in the ward.” clearly reflects this multitude.

Establishing Possession: Singular Vs Plural

Transitioning from plurality to possession, oftentimes, medical tools and documents, such as charts or reports, belong to a particular individual—the patient. In such contexts, the singular possessive form of the noun 'patient' is created by appending an apostrophe and s ('s). For instance, in "This patient's report is not fine," 'report' is the object of possession by the 'patient'.

With multiple patients, the plural possessive form of the noun is applied. This is achieved by appending an apostrophe to the plural form. So, when a reference is made to objects belonging to a group of patients, you will say, "The patients' charts are ready for review." This denotes that the charts belong to several patients.

Unique Usage in Titles

Aptly, the apostrophe marks a possessive case in titles such as "A patient's guide to [X]". Such a title intimates that the guide caters to a specific individual. Similarly, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" illustrates how the possessive case is used to show who the guide is intended for. Furthermore, the importance of proper grammar and punctuation cannot be overstated. Proper usage is instrumental in business and technical communication to convey meaning and intention effectively.

Considerations in Manuscript Writing

When writing a manuscript, it is customary to refer to the background of a patient. Should one use "Patient characteristics", "Patient's characteristics", or "Patients' characteristics"? The distinction between these usages lies purely in the intended portrayal of possession and plurality. Careful evaluation is required to determine which one suits the message you intend to pass.

Plurality in Action Scenario

Let's dive into a practical scenario where Rohan's mother decided to distribute 900 bananas among the patients of a hospital on her birthday. The hospital houses three categories of patients: male, female and child patients with each category receiving one apple. The number of female patients is twice that of male patients, which is in turn, thrice the number of child patients. These figures echo the values of generosity and community contribution, frequently displayed by healthcare workers.

Recognizing the Difference

The difference between 'patient’ and 'patients' lies not only in the degrees of plurality but also in the indication of possession. This difference becomes strikingly clear through examples like 'Patients care' meaning multiple patients receiving care, while 'patient's care' indicates that the care belongs to a specific patient.

The word 'patient' holds more than a single definition. While serving as a noun to refer to a person receiving medical treatment, it can also act as an adjective signaling a person's ability to tolerate delay or suffering without agitation. In these differing applications, prefixes like in- or im- distinguish between the noun and adjective forms (e.g., 'inpatient' implies someone receiving medical care at a hospital, 'impatient' portrays a character quick to irritation). Ultimately, the appropriate use of patient vs. patient is conditioned by the context of the conversation.


Clarity in communication is essential in the medical field, and understanding the correct usage of singular and plural forms and their possessive counterparts is pivotal. A firm grasp of these grammatical nuances ensures effective communication, thus fostering a better environment of understanding and empathy in the healthcare setting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Welcome to the blog all about your mental, physical and last but not least, your spiritual health, and well-being.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram