Friday, September 7, 2007

Dictating Numbers

Doctors are notorious for mumbling lab values and medication dosages. Some numbers can sound dangerously like others. To make sure the right number appears in print, please dictate them as follows:

NumberDictate as follows
13Thirteen. Operator, that's one three.
14Fourteen. Operator, that's one four.
15Fifteen. Operator, that's one five
16Sixteen. Operator, that's one six.
17Seventeen. Operator, that's one seven
18Eighteen. Operator, that's one eight.
19Nineteen. Operator, that's one nine.
30Thirty. Operator, that's three oh.
40Forty. Operator, that's four oh.
50Fifty. Operator, that's five oh.
60Sixty. Operator, that's six oh.
70Seventy. Operator, that's seven oh.
80Eighty. Operator, that's eight oh.
90Ninety. Operator, that's nine oh.

Frequently, a doctor will dictate numbers without telling the transcriptionist what those numbers stand for. A doctor who is dictating a patient's vital signs may state: "Vital signs 150 over 70, 85, 22, 98, 6."

This should have been dictated as follows:

"Vital signs reveal blood pressure 150 over 70, pulse 85, respirations 22, temperature 98 point 6."

The situation is made even worse when doctors who are dictating laboratory data rattle off a series of numbers from an SMA panel (or some other report) without ever telling the transcriptionist what these values represent. If the physician merely dictates: "7,3, 22, 35, 68," it sounds like a halfback calling numbers to the center during a football game.

As the dictating physician, it is your responsibility to tell the transcriptionist:

  • which number represents the patient's pH

  • which number stands for the patient's SGOT

  • which number stands for a patient's SGPT

  • which number is assigned to any other laboratory value you choose to include in your dictation.

Next: How To Dictate Tables

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