Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Medicine Humor, Confidentiality, Home Business Medical Transcriptionists

By Connie Limon

There is “humor” in medicine. A medical transcriptionist should possess a lively sense of humor as he or she will hear much to laugh about in a typical day’s dictation. This type of humor is essential for remaining long term in the field of medical transcription. The comic relief afforded by the humor in medicine does not mean the transcriptionist is insensitive to the importance of the medical reports being transcribed. Laughter helps relieve stress in any profession or occupation and helps us to maintain a sense of balance and perspective.

If you have visited or been a part of a transcription office you most likely have seen a central “funny file” where the medical transcriptionists routinely note some of the misstatements, slips of the tongue and other bits of humor in medical dictation. Heaven forbid this to happen and remain a part of anyone’s medical record (excellent proofreading skills are essential), but sometimes the medical transcriptionist can produce some hilarious “funnies” as well, often called “bloopers.” Consider this one:

• The doctor dictates “senile cataract.” The Medical Transcriptionist mistakenly types: “penile cataract” instead. As she or he was happily typing along it truly sounded like “penile cataract” rather than “senile cataract.”

Of course, with skillful proofreading the mistake would be corrected, and the blooper would end up as an addition in the funny file. When coffee breaks roll around, this type of blooper provides a good laugh shared with colleagues. In fact, sharing a laugh with someone who understands the joke intensifies the fun of the error in dictation or transcription.

Now consider one such as this: A doctor dictated, “This is the second hospital admission for a 75-year-old white male who was found under the bed in his hotel room and was admitted to the hospital for evaluation of the problem.” In an otherwise normal workday, suddenly this type of a sentence sounding through your ear plugs of the transcribing machine can be absolutely hilarious and even funnier if you have other medical transcriptionists to share it with on coffee breaks or lunchtime breaks. And once again, of course, the sentence had to be edited for final copy of the medical record.

Most physicians know they are not “perfect” and will appreciate the transcriptionist’s medical knowledge, alertness and editing ability. Physicians sometimes dictate half asleep, in the middle of the night or after 14 hours of a long and tedious surgery. They are counting on the medical transcriptionist to be alert and, if necessary, to correct their mistakes.

And, oh I forgot to mention about the physicians who eat while they dictate or chew gum. Yes, some do this! A physician’s dictation can sometimes be as difficult to decipher as their handwriting on prescriptions and physician orders. Sometimes I would think they delight in nothing more than writing the first initial of their name and then a long line afterwards either going up the page or down the page or in a wiggly fashion.

In my first job I transcribed dictation from an orthopedist that could be quite “smart-mouthed” about anything and everything. He was an expert in his field and well respected.

In our office we had a procedure that if a doctor failed to dictate on a patient that was seen in his or her clinic, we had to place a note on the chart, asking the doctor to “try and remember” from that visit and dictate a note the next time he arrived at clinic, which could be a month later. I had the special opportunity to comply with this procedure with this one particular doctor.

I did dutifully as I was told and placed my note. At the end of the next clinic session, I will never forget his reply. Thank God he did not say it aloud to me! He wrote back on the same note saying: Dear Connie: Do you remember what you had for breakfast one month ago? I do not remember the details from this patient’s last visit here. Reschedule.

I might add here the other doctors dutifully complied with our request to dictate “something.” In the end, I concluded he actually was sweeter to me about this than his reputation with others had been. He was known to have very little patience with secretaries, clerical staff and medical transcriptionist. This incident has remained in my personal “funny file” for decades, I still laugh about this. He was a little bitty short man about my height with dark hair, quite handsome.

Actually I did remember what I had for breakfast because it was the same every morning. Obviously he had more choices than I did. I never had the opportunity to respond.

Medical Transcriptionist today can work in a variety of settings. Many are finding it mandatory to move into offices of their homes as hospitals and facilities find it is more cost-effective to do so.

Medical transcribers can also set up a home business with a select few or as many accounts as they can handle.

However, working alone is not always as ideal as you might think. You miss out on a lot, but then again, you can also gain a lot with no driving time and expense. There are pros and cons to both types of work environments.

If you find yourself in business alone or your facility has moved your medical transcription office inside your home, you can still find ways to share with other colleagues the little funnies you encounter during your work schedule.

Just remember the confidentiality rules and never discuss specific details or give the names of those patients who had bloopers (you caught and fixed).

This article is FREE to publish with the resource box.

© 2007 Connie Limon All Rights Reserved

Written by: Connie Limon. Visit to learn more about the unique and wonderful profession of Medical Transcription. Sign up for our FREE newsletters about this career choice. Visit Camelot Articles at for a variety of FREE reprint content for your websites, newsletters or blogs.

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