Professional Development for Healthcare Professions Blog

Are We Being Unfair to Physicians?

Posted by Chad Sines on Tue, Jul 17, 2012 @ 10:00 AM

Medical transcriptionIf you read enough medical transcription forums and blogs, you will see a pretty common recurrent theme. Medical transcriptionists seem to thinkphysicians are a bit unitelligent because they cannot dictate clearly or they cannot spell medications and other medical words. I think this is more than a little short-sighted and continues to widen the rift between the MT and physician.

I will give a significant amount of support for issues relating to physicians being either unable or unwilling to dictate clearly. This is a skill that is necessary for the job. A medical transcriptionist has to have typing skills to transcribe even though their primary core is their medical knowledge.  A teacher or professor needs to have presentation skills even though their primary core is the knowledge they teach. The same can be said about a physician and dictating. While it can be very complicated to dictate an experience (try to dictate your day), it is a skill that should be mastered by all physicians. Their words become the medical record once they sign it. With many still not reading before signing, it is critical they be as clear as possible. The medical transcriptionist is a link in the risk management process and should have the clearest dictation possible so they can perform their job at an optimal level.

When it comes to spelling medical words or medications, I think we are being silly to assume that because a physician cannot spell omeprazole, he or she is somehow unintelligent. I think most patient’s primary concern is that the physician can properly identify the gastrointestinal disorder, order the appropriate tests, interpret them, diagnose the disorder, and order the right treatment. Physicians should strive to learn to spell new medical and pharmaceutical words, but I do believe it is more important that they know the pharmacology, side effects, and interactions more so than the spelling. I do not know any medical transcriptionists who can perform an esophagogastroduodenoscopy and then interpret the results, so the fact that the physician might have trouble spelling it is really insignificant in the scheme of things. Isn’t it?

When it comes to grammar,..well…unless it affects the outcome of the patient’s care, this really is more of a refinement of the report presentation, in my opinion. I think a few medical transcriptionists will cringe at that statement, but line it or not the EHR process is beginning to focus less on style. I do think it is important that medical transcriptionists learn and apply proper grammar, but I do not think it is the most critical issue for physicians when it comes to patient treatment so long as it does not affect the interpretation of the dictation.

I think it is fair game to poke some fun at physicians for their bloopers. It gives us a great source of entertainment and even many physicians will agree that they have said some really weird things without realizing it. I have had a few good laughs with some of my physicians over what I have heard and ultimately each led to a conversation about the need to be clear. That being said, medical transcriptionists should be more aware of each group’s role in the patient care experience. The physician has a set of knowledge they must master, the medical transcriptionist has a set they must master. There is some overlap, but I think it is unfair to assume that a physician will be focusing on grammar and spelling as opposed to issues that will affect the patient’s care. It is a symbiotic relationship where each depends on each other, and each should be more understanding of what the other is responsible for.

What do you think?

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