The correct attitude for a Medical Transcriptionist should be one of independence and responsibility for his or her work. Medical Transcriptionists function with a minimum of direct supervision. The majority do have an immediate supervisor “somewhere” responsible for quality control. Working as a professional Medical Transcriptionist means to take pride in the accuracy and completeness of your work. A professional gains satisfaction from a job well done.
Excellent proofreading skills are critical for a Medical Transcriptionist. Proofreading is looking for mistakes of all types in a transcribed document and correcting them. The most common errors a Medical Transcriptionist will be looking for include:
• Omission of important dictated words
• Selecting the wrong English or medical word
• Misspelling words
• Typographical errors
• Grammatical errors
• Punctuation errors
Proofreading skills will improve with practice. You will know what your areas of weaknesses are as you proofread and find your errors. If you find that you miss few medical words, but misspell many English words, you can improve by paying particular interest in English words as you transcribe and proofread dictation.
Consider the following four-step method to help you achieve the best results from your proofreading:
1. Look words up in reference books as you encounter them. Don’t wait until the end of the report. You will have forgotten how some of the words sounded. Search until you find and don’t go any further in your medical transcribing until you find the words you get stumped on. Leave a blank if you exhaust all resources and still cannot find your word.
2. Briefly proofread what you transcribe as it appears on the screen of your word processor or the paper you are typing on. This will help you catch missed words and typographical errors as they occur. Print out your reports on paper if you are using a word processor. It is easier to proofread the printed report on paper than it is on the screen.
3. If you just cannot find a word, leave a blank of an appropriate length, according to how long or short the word sounds. Attach a flag (a flag is a sheet of paper clipped to the report or a sticky note placed on the report which identifies all blanks, which lines of the report they are located on, and what the dictated word sounded like to you.
4. Use a medical or English spellchecker as the final step in proofreading. Spellcheckers will not catch errors such as transcribing no instead of not or transcribing ilium instead of ileum.
Excellent proofreading skills come only after continual practice to perfect. Consider the following tips:
• To avoid omitting important dictated words adjust the speed control on the transcriber unit and transcribe slowly to assure no dictated words are overlooked. Slowly increase your speed of the tape, which will increase transcription speed as you learn to keep up with the dictator.
• The tape recording (if you are transcribing from a tape) does not perfectly reproduce the human voice. Sometimes the words and phrases sound garbled or something quite different from what they really are. A Medical Transcriptionist should never transcribe what he or she “thinks” they hear. You should transcribe only what makes sense in the context of the report. Careful word searching and careful attention to word definitions help the Medical Transcriptionist to avoid selecting the wrong English or medical word. The wrong medical word can convey a wrong diagnosis for a patient. The error can be carried in the patient’s permanent medical record and cause extreme havoc and chaos. The professional Medical Transcriptionist NEVER transcribes anything that does not make sense and/or cannot be verified in a reference book. In other words, don’t just make up a word either just to fill in all the blanks. It is better to leave a blank.
• Misspelling of medical and English words can be avoided by careful proofreading and using a spellchecker.
• Typographical errors are usually the result of carelessness or attempts to type too fast rather than focusing on accuracy. Careful proofreading will eliminate typographical errors.
• Grammatical errors are hard to catch while transcribing and must be identified through careful proofreading.
• Punctuation errors can actually change the medical meaning of a sentence. Keep your punctuation references within easy reach.