Doctors every now and then come across some very critical bloopers from medical transcriptionists. Some of these can be downright funny! It’s common for transcription errors to creep in for various reasons like the dictation might not be clear, too many medical terms stuffed in, or misunderstanding at the transcriptionist’s end. Medical transcriptionists vary in experience and skill and may not be well versed with some medical terms. Here is a compilation of some very funny transcription mistakes you could note to avoid being on the receiving end of the laughter!
- “Eyes and nose continue to be within normal limits” (I & O).
- “History of sick as hell disease” (sickle cell)
- “She was a bitch and grinned” (a bit chagrined).
- “The last day the patient took their meds was for beaver.” (forever).
- “49 year old occasional male”(Caucasian male).
- “Borderline respectablepancreatic cancer”. (Resectable).
- “Patient is alert and oriented, sedated on Propofol”. (alert and oriented as well as sedated?)
- “Pt was successfully intubated with a kaleidoscope”.
- “Rectal exam revealed a normal size thyroid”.
- “The baby was delivered, the cord clamped and cut, and handed to the pediatrician, who breathed and cried immediately”.
- “The lab test indicated abnormal loverfunction” (Liver).
- “The patient was discharged with Homo Two.” (Home O2, i.e. oxygen)
- “We consulted the psycho team” (psych OT, i.e. occupational therapy)
In Extremis – That’s a Good One!
It’s often seen that physicians use the Latin term “in extremis” to mean “at the point of death”. Most transcriptionists won’t know this as the term doesn’t fall under conventional medical terminology and is rather a medical term-of-art. So make sure you don’t transcribe “…when brought to the ICU, I found the patient to be in extremis” as “…when brought to the ICU, I found the patient to be an extremist”!
Transcriptionists sometimes make numeric mistakes which can be deadly. Exactly how much medicine is administered to a patient is extremely crucial and while transcribing, make sure you never misinterpret the dosage. In 2010, a woman died after a 30 times higher dosage of blood thinner was administered to her! Not funny though, but transcription is a fairly responsible profession.
Care should also be given for similar sounding words such as hypertension and hypotension, colostrum and claustrum, dysphasia and dysphagia, etc. Also make sure you don’t mix up homophones, which are same words with different meanings and spellings. Examples include ilium and ileum, radicle and radical, plural and pleural, etc. Making an error in case of such words can completely change the meaning of the report or the diagnosis. Some heavily accented doctors may make the transcription job difficult, but in case of doubt, it is always important to clarify with the physician or leave the field blank and bring it to his notice.
Do share with us your experiences, grim or funny. Maybe others will get something to learn from them!