Friday, September 14, 2007

Help Is At Hand

Because medical transcriptionists are rarely identified as members of the patient care team, few doctors understand that MTs are extremely valuable resources for learning how to improve dictation.
  • A professional medical transcriptionist will go out of his way to help a doctor who indicates a willingness to learn from his mistakes.

  • A medical transcriptionist will also demonstrate a remarkable acuity for identifying mistakes which other people might not recognize, or which other people might be too embarrassed to bring to a physician's attention for fear of being shot down for criticizing a doctor.

  • A medical transcriptionist might be able to tell a physician that he consistently mispronounces the word pharynx and that, instead of saying "far-nix," he should be saying "far-inks."

  • A professional MT can tell a doctor that he persistently -- and incorrectly -- identifies a drug as Ciprofloxin when the doctor should be saying either Cipro or ciprofloxacin.

  • Someone who listens to a physician make the same mistake in one report after another can warn that physician that he keeps saying propralonol instead of propranolol.
    "An attitude adjustment on the part of physicians toward medical transcriptionists might go a long way toward happier employees and better-quality dictation," suggests one MT. "When working for a regional medical center, I transcribed for a radiologist who made a (gasp!) mistake one day. I printed a hard copy and took it down to him. Radiologists, of course, always want their dictation yesterday, so I was trying to do him a favor. He coldly took my copy of the report, circled and hand-edited his mistake, and then called my supervisor (who supervised 22 of us and was a busy person in her own right). He asked her why I was bothering him and told her to personally bring him any future mistakes! Needless to say, it was a long, long time before I was willing to help that particular doctor again. In fact, his overall attitude was so poor that the hospital ended up firing him -- something that rarely happens to radiologists!"

As a doctor, you know that diseases like hypertension and diabetes are "silent killers" that can have a slow, cumulative, and insidious effect on a patient's health. When diagnosed early, these diseases can be treated with diet, exercise, and medication to help bring them under control.

Impaired language skills and dysfunctional behavior are a dictating physician's "silent killers." Whether you are a medical student or a physician who has been in practice for a substantial period of time, being diagnosed with one of these "silent killers" should make you question -- and hopefully change -- deeply-ingrained habits that might otherwise aim you toward professional suicide.

Next: Dictation Etiquette

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