Professional Development for Healthcare Professions Blog

Wednesday Transcription Tip- Using the Plus/Minus Sign

Posted by Chad Sines on Thu, Sep 29, 2011 @ 12:23 AM

plusHere are some tips for using the plus sign.

1.         Do not use the plus sign without a numeral.

Examples:  +1, +2, +3, +4 or 1+, 2+, 3+, 4+

                                    not +. ++, +++, ++++

2.         In laboratory and technical readings, use the symbol unless it will not be noticeable or clear.

Example:         3+ gram-positive cocci

3.         In a range, use the word to (not a hyphen) to indicate a range when the plus sign is used.

Example:         Reflexes 2+/4 to 3+/4 on the right and 4+/4 on the left.

4.         Write out plus when it means more than.

Example:         At 40 plus, he considered himself old.

5.         When typing “plus or minus,” express as plus or minus or plus/minus, not +/- except in tables or test results.

Diane Gilmore, CMT
Med-Line Instructor


Topics: Professional Development, Transcription Tip

Monday Technology Tip- Oh Email How I Love to Hate You

Posted by Chad Sines on Mon, Sep 26, 2011 @ 03:28 PM

Email BehaviourEmail. We all use it, many use it wrong, many more get upset when others use it wrong. After spending 20 minutes deleting junk from my inbox I figure this article would be good therapy for me, so here goes.

Stop Sending Emails

I get 200-300 emails a day. Eventually you probably will too. Sadly these are all legit business stuff. Not spam. If it is fast and simple, just IM. (And then stop IMing them).  If I need to know now and you need input, call me.  If it is sort of big news, Facebook it. If you are my mommy, you can do whatever you want because no one messes with mommy. If you are Ed McMahon and I won Publisher’s Clearinghouse, you can also do whatever you want.

A Professional Email Address

If you do not know about this yet, then you are clearly not reading these blogs. Shame on you. Go read this one. If you have read it and still not changed your email I am guessing you really like limiting your job opportunities and your networking abilities.

All CAPS/Red/Bold Text

We are not kids. All caps is a temper tantrum on the Internet. We put kids in time out for that. Throw in some bold red lettering and you appear to have had an uncontrollable breakdown on the Internet. The only thing that makes this worse is when you do it on a listserve or from a professional email group. Everyone will see you as an unprofessional person who is not in control of their faculties and best to be avoided or minimized. Instead send a normal email with black text, no bold. If that does not work, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone and someone else invented certified mail.

Bold/Colored text for adults

Use bold for clarity. The main headings on this blog are bold so you can read my bits of wisdom. The link under professional email address is blue so you know it is a link. If I posted something with a deadline I might do this We have a webinar on September 28th. Be sure to register ASAP.  Color and bold should be used for clarity not ranting. 

The BCC:

If you are sending an email and you want to send it to someone else as well but do not want the main recipient to see that you are sending it to that other person, use the TO: field for the main recipient. Use the BCC: for the person you want to get a copy but do not want the main recipient to see. This is really good if there is a conflict, you need a “witness” to an email, or you want to send yourself a copy. Essentially both people get a copy, but the main recipient does not know about the BCC person. If the main recipient replies, it only goes back to you. The BCC gets nothing.

Reply/Reply All

If someone sends you an email with a bunch of other people in the TO: field, choose REPLY to send the reply to the sender. Do not choose REPLY ALL unless you really need everyone on the email to see what you have to say. This drives people insane. The other 15 really do not care about the record rainfall you ust had.

Jokes/Forwards- Avoid making people hate you

Never, ever, ever, in a million years, forward jokes (which are rarely funny), virus warnings (which are usually not real), or anything to people unless they have said “Yes, I love when people send me lots of mail I do not ask for.” Never send these to work colleagues. Ever. Never. Work email is for work, not crazy cat pictures. It also most likely violates company policy and could get you fired.

Phising Emails

That guy from Nigeria who will give you a million dollars if you send him $1000 is just trying to scam you as is most anyone who is asking for money now in exchange for compensation later. Often people get suckered into providing their email password and then scams go out through their email. Next thing you know Uncle Billy is stuck in London and needs $500 or so the email says. Also if you get ANYTHING from a company that has to do with finances, do not click the link in the email. Instead go to the browser and type the address in. Paypal and bank site scams are very prevelant and they look very legit too.


If you are on a listserv, such as Google Groups, and someone sends something like say “Hey all just reminding you all to send your forms in by Friday” do not reply to the entire list with “I already did.” Some of those lists have 100 or more people on it who do not need to see 100 replies from people saying they sent it, did not sent it, or they have no idea what is going on. Make sure any reply is to the sender. Better yet, do not reply at all. Those types of messages come out as reminders are for people who did not do something. If you did it, they are not talking to you.

Read Receipt

Generally this is useless because the person you are trying to be prove received the email about the $20 they owe you from last month's bar tab most likely will refuse to let it send the receipt anyway. Plus some ISPs seem to block them. Delivery receipts work sometimes. Those come from the server and simply say “The server got the email and we did something with it.” They are not that special but could be of use if you notice someone ignoring something important.


Call me back now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! or Are you serious????????? or What were you thinking !?!?!?! just makes people want to pluck the keys off your keyboard, smash them, melt them, and then flush them down the nearest toilet. One exclamation point or one question mark is plenty. 

Business Emails

At some point you will be on a work or professional association group that will require many emails going back and forth. Only send emails that are important. Only send it to those who really need to know. Do not add fluff about your new house, the crazy neighbor, etc. Keep it professional and short. Do not reply with nonsense like “ok” “good to know” “I agree” unless they ask for a response. Obviously if people are asking for input that is different, but having 20 people reply with “see you then” is just asking for someone to scream. Have clear rules that the group is all business, nothing more, period, end of story, and you will leave everyone happy.

Well I think that was good therapy for me. I hope you learned something and will break any of these bad habits you might have. Arg. I just got 47 emails in the time it took to write this. There better be no bears on trampolines in there.

Topics: Professional Development, Technology Tip

Wednesday Transcription Tip- Plane/Plain

Posted by Chad Sines on Thu, Sep 22, 2011 @ 01:43 AM

Med-Line School of Medical Transcription

This week's tup comes from Diane Gilmore.

Plane vs plain confuses a lot of MTs as it relates to imaging

is not the same as plane

The word “plain” denotes something done without contrast. Think of plain in this context as ordinary. A plain x-ray is nothing special, i.e. no contrast.
            The patient had a plain x-ray.  (not plane)

A plane is an imaginary flat surface and refers to planes of the body. The frontal plane of the body is also known as the coronal plane.
            We made our incision along the medial plane.

Diane Gilmore, CMT
Director of Education 

Topics: Transcription Tip

Monday Technology Tip- Military Time

Posted by Chad Sines on Mon, Sep 19, 2011 @ 09:00 AM

Med-Line MilitaryThis topic was suggested by one of the instructors, Brenda Dorsett, CMT.

A lot of MTs have issues with military time. It is really very simple once you learn it.

It is really quite simple. Militay time stats at 0000 which is midnight and goes up to 2359 (11:59 pm). The clock is on a 24-hour basis. If the number is 12 or below, that is the time in the AM.

1:00 AM -- 0100 hrs
2:00 AM -- 0200 hrs
3:00 AM -- 0300 hrs
4:00 AM -- 0400 hrs
5:00 AM -- 0500 hrs
6:00 AM -- 0600 hrs
7:00 AM -- 0700 hrs
8:00 AM -- 0800 hrs
9:00 AM -- 0900 hrs
10:00 AM -- 1000 hrs
11:00 AM -- 1100 hrs
12:00 PM -- 1200 hrs

If the time is above 1300 or above, simply subtract 12 to get the time in the PM

1:00 PM -- 1300 hrs
2:00 PM -- 1400 hrs
3:00 PM -- 1500 hrs
4:00 PM -- 1600 hrs
5:00 PM -- 1700 hrs
6:00 PM -- 1800 hrs
7:00 PM -- 1900 hrs
8:00 PM -- 2000 hrs
9:00 PM -- 2100 hrs
10:00 PM -- 2200 hrs
11:00 PM -- 2300 hrs

And again 0000 is midnight.

Topics: Professional Development, Technology Tip

Webinar- $10 - Orthopedics

Posted by Chad Sines on Thu, Sep 15, 2011 @ 06:00 AM

Omniscribe orthopedicsTitle: Orthopedics
When: Fri, Sep 16, 2011 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM PDT
Presenter:  Diane Gilmore, CMT, AHDI-F
Length: 1 hour
Credits: 1 CM
Cost: $10 


Description: Introduction to the body’s skeletal and muscular structure , the diseases and conditions treated by orthopedics, and diagnostic studies used to evaluate musculoskeletal disorders.  Transcription tips, BOS rules, terminology nomenclature.


Topics: Professional Development, Credentialing

Wednesday Transcription Tip- Compound Modifiers

Posted by Chad Sines on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 @ 06:00 AM

Sometimes hyphenated compound words become so well established that the hyphen is dropped and the words are joined together without a hyphen.  When such a word can be used either as a noun, adjective, or verb, the noun and adjective forms are joined without a hyphen, but the verb form remains two separate words if one of them is a preposition.


noun or adjective                                  verb
checkup                                                  check up
followup                                                  follow up
workup                                                    work up
followthrough                                        follow through

The patient was lost to followup (noun).
Followup exam will be in 3 weeks (adjective with a noun following)
I will follow up with the patient in 2 weeks (verb)
I will work up her symptoms with a CT scan.
Her workup revealed no abnormalities.


Diane Gilmore, CMT, AHDI-F
Director of Education/Instructor 

Monday Technology Tip- Time Zone Conversion

Posted by Chad Sines on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 @ 02:08 AM

Time ZonesHmm. Apparently I forgot to set the date for this one to come out.

We get a lot of calls from people wanting to know what time something is happening in their time zone. As professionals we need to figure things like this out on our own. This is a topic Lisa mentioned in her most recent Professional Development webinar. It is simply a matter of critical thinking. And if that fails, the critical thinker knows they can use Google.

If it is 4 pm EST, then it is 3 pm CST, 2 pm MST, and 1 pm PST. Simply start the time at EST and subtract one hour as you move across. EST is the latest time. 

If that is not enough for you to convert to your time zone, then visit this link. You can simply look for the time in the time zone that is given and see it for your area.

Easy peasy. Now maybe I can critically think and set these articles to come out when they are supposed to.


Chad Sines, MS, MBA, ADHI-F

Topics: Professional Development, Technology Tip

Wednesday Transcription Tip- Demographics

Posted by Chad Sines on Wed, Sep 07, 2011 @ 06:00 AM

Med-Line demographicsToday's Transcription Tip comes from one of our instructors, Brenda Dorsett, CMT.

Before we type the first word of any report, we must first pay special attention to the demographics for the report. Accurate patient demographics are critical to patient health information.  Demographics give the patient information identification. Demographics are provided by manual entry of identifying information by the dictator into some device that will be used by the dictation system interface.  Demographics are also provided by spoken dictation.

Pay meticulous attention to:

Patient name:
  • First, Last, Middle correct spellings
  • Helen versus Ellen - Names that sound similar
  • Gender confusing names such as Francis versus Frances, Bobby versus Bobbie
  • Interchangeable names – Names that could be first or last, such as James Allen or Allen James. 
  • Occurrences of Jr and Sr (Junior and Senior)
  • Patients of same names such as mother and daughter or common names like Mary Smith, Richard Jones, etc.
  • Hyphenated names (Smith-Jones or Jones-Smith)
  • Nickname usage such as Rich, Rick, or Dick for Richard
  • Physician identifier – names and numbers correct 
All numbers:   
  • Correct Dates: Admission, Operative, Discharge, Transfer, Death, etc, Date of Service, Birth dates
  • Age
  • Medical Record Number
  • Account Number/Visit Number/Order ID
  • Female versus male  (he versus she, him and her)
Report Type: 
  • Be sure that the correct report type is going to be typed such as Operative versus  History and Physical, etc.

The transcriptionist must remain cognizant through the entire report for these things and fix or report any inconsistencies.  Sometimes the transcriptionist has the ways and means to view the records system for verification purposes.  If not, then no guessing; the report needs to be flagged and verified.             

Monday Technology Tip- Internet Resources

Posted by Chad Sines on Mon, Sep 05, 2011 @ 06:00 AM

Med-Line InternetToday’s tech tip is on Internet resources. A lot of people will tell you to shun the Internet as a resource. While this is useful when you are new and unable to determine which sites are credible and which are not, once you learn this skill you can quickly research terms and information. Here are some to get you started.

What makes these sites reliable? They are academic peer-reviewed, government health, recognized professional site, or they link to sites that are.  

Dictionary site

What makes this site so nice is that it takes you to other reliable sites. It used to link to Stedmans and Dorlands, but I do not think they do anymore. It was a phenomenal resource when it had these two included.

Click Customize at the top. Change General to Medicine and turn off the advertisements.

Physician Lookup

This site is the American Medical Association’s (AMA) physician lookup. The amount of information is limited; however, it can be useful. Remember to never guess which physician you are supposed to be cc’ing.

Medication Info

This is absolutely one of my favorite references sites. You can see the dosages that medications come in, dosages for certain ailments, and a bunch more information. It is a great personal resource for any new medication as it gives side effects, pharmacology information, etc.

Acronym Finder

Confused on what an acronym mean? This can yield a lot of results so I would suggest the dictionary site first.

Lab Tests

This site gives information on a lot of lab tests, what they are used for, etc. I really like this site as there is just so much background information.

Topics: Professional Development, Technology Tip