When the patient visits a doctor, the doctor spends time with the patient discussing his medical problems, including past history and/or problems. The doctor performs a physical examination and may request various laboratory or diagnostic studies; will make a diagnosis or differential diagnoses, then decides on a plan of treatment for the patient, which is discussed and explained to the patient, with instructions provided. After the patient leaves the office, the doctor uses a voice-recording device to record the information about the patient encounter. This information may be recorded into a hand-held cassette recorder or into a regular telephone, dialed into a central server located in the hospital or transcription service office, which will 'hold' the report for the transcriptionist. This report is then accessed by a medical transcriptionist , it clearly received as a voice file or cassette recording, who then listens to the dictation and transcribes it into the required format for the medical record, and of which this medical record is considered a legal document. The next time the patient visits the doctor, the doctor will call for the medical record or the patient's entire chart, which will contain all reports from previous encounters. The doctor can on occasion refill the patient's medications after seeing only the medical record, although doctors prefer to not refill prescriptions without seeing the patient to establish if anything has changed.
It is very important to have a properly formatted, edited, and reviewed medical transcription document. If a medical transcriptionist accidentally typed a wrong medication or the wrong diagnosis, the patient could be at risk if the doctor (or his designee) did not review the document for accuracy. Both the Doctor and the medical transcriptionist play an important role to make sure the transcribed dictation is correct and accurate. The Doctor should speak slowly and concisely, especially when dictating medications or details of diseases and conditions, and the medical transcriptionist must possess hearing acuity, medical knowledge, and good reading comprehension in addition to checking references when in doubt.
However, some doctors do not review their transcribed reports for accuracy, and the computer attaches an electronic signature with the disclaimer that a report is "dictated but not read". This electronic signature is readily acceptable in a legal sense. The Transcriptionist is bound to transcribe verbatim (exactly what is said) and make no changes, but has the option to flag any report inconsistencies. On some occasions, the doctors do not speak clearly, or voice files are garbled. Some doctors are, unfortunately, time-challenged and need to dictate their reports quickly (as in ER Reports). In addition, there are many regional or national accents and (mis)pronunciations of words the MT must contend with. It is imperative and a large part of the job of the Transcriptionist to look up the correct spelling of complex medical terms, medications, obvious dosage or dictation errors, and when in doubt should "flag" a report. A "flag" on a report requires the dictator (or his designee) to fill in a blank on a finished report, which has been returned to him, before it is considered complete. Transcriptionists are never, ever permitted to guess, or 'just put in anything' in a report transcription . Furthermore, medicine is constantly changing. New equipment, new medical devices, and new medications come on the market on a daily basis, and the Medical Transcriptionist needs to be creative and to tenaciously research (quickly) to find these new words. An MT needs to have access to, or keep on memory, an up-to-date library to quickly facilitate the insertion of a correctly spelled device.
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