Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Blank Spaces

When a doctor's dictation cannot be understood by the transcriptionist working on the report, the transcriptionist will usually leave a blank or underlined space in which the physician can write the missing word. This usually occurs when the dictating physician

  • Mumbles something that cannot be understood

  • Concocts the name of a medication which is not documented

  • Is dictating so fast that his speech is unintelligible

  • Is drowned out by competing noise

Physicians whose dictation is substandard will often receive what is known in the trade as a "Swiss cheese report." The reference to Swiss cheese is, of course, a reference to the number of blank spaces or "holes" that were left by the transcriptionist.
Most physicians blithely insist that a plethora of blank spaces indicates a lack of skill on the part of the medical transcriptionist. To the contrary, a large number of blank spaces in any report signifies a physician with poor dictation skills who has consistently failed to communicate.

Having a report filled with blank spaces entered into evidence during a trial is, to an attorney, the equivalent of waving a red flag in front of a bull. If an attorney is perceptive, cunning, and skillful at impeaching a witness's testimony, the holes in your report will soon become holes in your professional credibility.

[Consciousness Raising Exercise #39]

Next: Errors and Omissions

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