Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Use of Pharmacology References in Medical Transcription

By Connie Limon

Drug reference books are an important resource in the library of a medical transcriptionist. In order to keep up to date on new drugs, a medical transcriptionist should purchase drug reference books every year or every other year.

Four important pharmacology references in the medical tanscriptionist’s library are:

1. Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR)

2. American Drug Index (ADI)

3. Saunders Pharmaceutical Word Book

4. Understanding Pharmacology

It is very important that a medical transcriptionist be familiar with drugs, their indications and dosages as well as how to research new or unusual drug names in drug reference books. Elderly people especially sometimes take multiple, as many as ten or more medications per day. A wise medical transcriptionist will be sure to stay up-to-date. Familiarity with drugs and drug reference books will make transcription assignments much easier and will increase the rate of productivity, which is important if the medical transcription is being paid by line of transcription.

The pharmaceutical companies use three different names to describe a drug, they are:

• The chemical name (which is a complicated formula describing the drug’s molecular structure).

• The generic name (a shorter name assigned to the drug chemical)

• The trade or brand name (the copyrighted name selected by the pharmaceutical company)

The trade or brand name is easy to pronounce, and may indicate what the drug is used for or how often it is taken, and is selected for its appeal to prescribing physicians. A generic drug may have several trade names copyrighted by different manufacturers.

Rules to remember when transcribing drug names include:

• Generic drugs are always written in lowercase letters. Trade name drugs always start with a capital letter. Some trade name drugs will also have internal capitalization (such as pHisoHex). It is also important to note that the PDR contains only prescription drugs. There is a separate publication for nonprescription drugs. In addition, only drugs that the manufacturer pays to have listed in the PDR are included.

• Be alert to drug names that sound alike but their uses are completely different, such as Xanax used to treat anxiety and Zantac used to treat stomach ulcers

• Words such as tablet, capsule, solution, elixir and cream are not part of the trade name of a drug and should not be capitalized for use

The standard drug reference is the Physicians’ Desk Reference (published annually) and well known as the PDR. It contains various sections of drugs and is found in most physicians’ offices. Sections of the PDR of most interest to the medical transcriptionist are:

• Yellow pages (list generic names of drugs)

• Pink pages (list brand names of drugs)

• Blue pages (list therapeutic category

• White pages (give a complete description of the listed drugs including indications and dosages)

The American Drug Index (ADI) is another standard drug reference book. This is a comprehensive reference that lists both generic and trade name drugs and prescription and nonprescription drugs in alphabetical order throughout the reference book. It lists every drug name in all capital letters. Generic drugs are preceded by a small black dot to denote their difference from trade and brand name drugs. Trade name drugs list the name of the manufacturer to alert the medical transcriptionist that the drug is to be capitalized.

The Saunders Pharmaceutical Word Book is a new drug reference book to be updated annually first published n 1992. It is an A to Z listing of medications with generic drugs in lowercase letters and trade names capitalized as the medical transcriptionist must type them. Each entry states briefly what the drug is for and the usual methods of administration. It has an appendix list of Sound Alikes, 879 pairs of drugs that sound enough alike to be confusing which serves as a special help to the medical transcriptionist.

Understanding Pharmacology is an easy-to-read textbook used in many pharmacology classes. Medical transcriptionists seeking a greater understanding of drugs and their uses may find it especially useful to include in their library as well.

This article is FREE to publish with the resource box.

© 2007 Connie Limon All Rights Reserved

Written by: Connie Limon, Medical Transcriptionist. Visit us at for more information about the unique and rewarding career choice of Medical Transcription. Visit Camelot Articles for a variety of FREE reprint articles for your newsletter, web sites or blogs.

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