Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Acoustical Considerations

Think, for a minute, about how most people react to the sound of chalk scraping on a blackboard. Then try to imagine what that sounds like if amplified and delivered directly to your eardrums through a highly-sensitized microphone. With that image in mind, try to imagine how medical transcriptionists react to the following sounds, which are routinely heard when transcribing reports:

  • The physician who speaks with a whistling "S."

  • The physician who coughs directly into the telephone.

  • The physician who loudly sneezes into the telephone.

  • The physician whose beeper goes off next to the phone as he is dictating.

  • The physician who is very tired and keeps yawning while trying to speak.

  • The physician who only dictates when he is drunk and his speech is slurred.

A simple rule of thumb:

If you would have second thoughts about doing any of these things while talking on the phone with your mother, do not do them when dictating medical reports.

While digital dictation systems have gone a long way toward improving the quality of recorded sound, they cannot always filter out extraneous sound from the area in which a physician is dictating. Because such sounds are part of a familiar environment, the dictating physician may automatically tune them out of his mind. Nonetheless, they are being recorded with stunning accuracy by the digital dictation system into which he is dictating.

"I had a doc once who dictated on a handheld mini tape. May God strike me dead if I'm lying -- he actually took the tape into the bathroom with him and kept dictating while he did his thing," recalls one transcriptionist. "Thereafter, I could never look at him when he came into the office. I would sneak off to the lounge to giggle uncontrollably. I mean, I just never wanted to know the guy quite that well."

Next: Sound Distortion From Peripheral Noise

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