The other lady in the hospital room with me was much sicker than I was, and she had to have continuous care from the nurses, for bandage changing, cleaning, feeding, you name it. She was francophone, but her English was excellent - she switched back and forth between the two languages continuously, so she had no trouble understanding English, but I noticed she was sensitive to a particular word: "complain". She'd continually preface what she had to say with "I'm not complaining, but..." and then go on to say what the problem was: this hurts, I can't eat that, this position is uncomfortable, whatever.
When a shift changed, a day nurse came on who had obviously just read the notes from the night nurse, and she said to the patient, "I see during the night you complained that..." and the lady cut her off immediately: "NO. I didn't!" she said very emphatically.
I finally realized that she didn't understand the word "complain" the way doctors use it. To her, "complain" only existed in the sense of "I'm going to complain to your boss!" It indicated a grievance, combined with anger, and a strong hint of blame. But doctors use the word without any emotional content at all: "The patient came in complaining of shortness of breath..." "The patient complained of chest pains during the night..." Case histories regularly start like this, and if you've heard medical programs, you've heard doctors speak this way. I guess unless you're dealing with an unconscious patient who can't tell you anything, most medical treatments start out this way: the patient approaches the doctor and tells him what's wrong. How else will he know that there's a problem? So to a doctor, the word is completely neutral, meaning just "a report of some negative development". I wonder how many doctors would be aware of this possible misunderstanding over such a simple word?