October 16, 2004

Drs. Homey Don't Play That and Rules Are For Other, Lesser Beings

I think Dr. Alice requested a medical transcription anecdote from me a couple weeks ago. I haven't really had any of these because I am lucky: I transcribe physicians anymore who are really super-awesome dictators. (It always sounds so weird to call them "dictators," though for all I know they are that way to work with, actually.)

I mean they are so cool that when one of them dictated half a 5-minute dictation in a poorly-done Irish brogue, I not only didn't mind, I loved it--particularly when he made the aside, "this is hard!" midway through it. Yes, doctor. A good Irish brogue that doesn't sound hella cheesy is a difficult thing. I figure he did it on a dare or a bet or something. Anyway, more doctors should feel free to have fun with accents. Unless they already have accents, in which case I would like to take a moment to broadcast this request to the fine people of India:

Please: When someone praises your English--which is usually very, very good, don't get me wrong on this--please do not take that as license to speak at a rate of 300 words per minute. Because I guarantee you there are still some words you are just not pronouncing correctly at all and when you say them real fast?--Yes, thank you. I knew you would understand.

Anyway, nothing's perfect. Despite the preponderance of wonderful, clear-speaking, fabulous doctors for whom I transcribe emergency reports, there still always have to be a couple "special" cases. These have been nicknamed, without affection, Dr. Homey Don't Play That and Dr. Rules Are For Other, Lesser Beings.

You might have surmised that these two probably have the same principal flaw.

You might as well congratulate yourself because, BINGO.

See, neither Dr. Homey Don't Play That nor Dr. Rules Are For Other, Lesser Beings thinks it is worth his or her time to include such trivial information as:

--The patient's name

--The date of visit

--A birthdate?

--A sex?

--Maybe a chart number?

--Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

And the thing is . . . the thing is . . . the thing is, we have like a system that more or less does this for the doctors. I think they have to punch in a thing or two--okay, I have no idea actually what they have to punch in, but the point is, I'm assured by my company that yes, there is a system by which they can make sure all that information is contained in the dictation without having to do very much to bring that happy circumstance about.

And the other thing is, all the other physicians do whatever that magical thing is they do to get all the patient information in the dictation already, so that I don't have to try to make out a hastily-mumbled name that HEAVEN FORBID WE SHOULD EVER SPELL, like 95% of the time. I could forgive accidents. I could forgive "sometimes" or "once in awhile." But Drs. Homey Don't Play That and Rules Are For Other, Lesser Beings? They're on more of a "never" kick with the patient information. Maybe they have a bet on with each other, I don't know.

This would be annoying, but still merely a minor nuisance, except for one other commonality these two share: Unrestrained cheerfulness and vivacity.

I mean, they leave this I-don't-know-I-kind-of-thought-it-was-maybe-important? information off all their dictations. They've been told not to leave this stuff off--trust me, I verified that much before I started complaining here--and not only are they unrepentant and determined to continue leaving this stuff off, but they both - sound - so - freaking - HAPPY - about it. Like you know the weather gals--don't tsk-tsk at me; they usually are women, admit it--that your local news stations have? These two sound like that.

"Hi! This is Dr. Homey Don't Play That Dictating on a Patient Indecipherable Lopez, whose sex, birthdate, account number or, heck, date of visit I can't be bothered to provide you! Chief complaint is nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea x3 days!" Hi! This is an underpaid transcriptionist who yearns to type, "Use the ADT feed, you cretin, or never get another report back from me again" instead of what you actually just said there!

There's nothing I can do, though. I took a survey, and I'm not the only one irritated by it, and complaints have been made, and counselings have taken place, and, you know, what can you do? These guys ultimately make the rules; they're the customers.

And Rules Are For Other, Lesser Beings.

Posted by Ilyka at October 16, 2004 03:47 AM in in praise of idleness


I'm so over here laughing my asterisk off!

I don't have DOCTOR Homey Don't Play That -- instead, I deal with Homey Don't Play That, ESQUIRE. (Or JURIS DOCTORATE.) Usually, though, the older guys and gals know exactly how to do it; it's the Young Pups that can't seem to get it done right.

My very favoritest thing, though, is -- because I do dictation that is very much longer than what you do (a typical document is usually over ten minutes' worth and because I'm some sort of magnet for this I usually get asked to take the deposition "summaries" that are usually well over an hour's worth of dictation) anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the thing I like the most is when, somewhere, somehow, in the middle of dictating some mammoth document, the lawyer forgets they're dictating and a little bit of "human" shows through. Some examples:

"Witness was asked to describe the. . .(to herself) what the fuuuuuck . . .??"


"Defendants object to this request as being palpably improper, period. I mean, COLON. COLON - NEW LINE! DAAAMMNNN!"


(While driving) "This will be a Trial Report number three; you can find a template in the. . . .(background noise). . .Oh, my. I hope you didn't hear that. I believe he just questioned my parentage."

All of these are true stories. And times like these keep me from stomping my foot pedal into the floor.


Posted by: Margi at October 16, 2004 04:32 AM

You got that transcriptionist's intuition all right--they ARE young. Although in medicine, "older" is no guarantee of "more mature." It usually means, "crotchety," "obstinate," "impatient with these newfangled dictation systems," etc.

I still prefer them to the young ones. Except for ol' Dr. Sexy Irish Brogue, of course. Must . . . find . . . picture! Begin . . . stalking!

It IS the human moments that keep you going. OMG, yours are too funny. For some reason I like the "WTF?" one a lot. Doctors don't slip up like that as much. I don't think I've ever had one cuss outright, even as an aside. What they're worst about is GIGGLING. Here they are talking about some poor dude's prostatectomy and someone in the background is apparently cracking them up and so to the uninitiated, it sounds like doctors think prostate cancer is freakin' hysterical, when of course it isn't and they don't think so either. They're just human is all.

An hour's worth of dictation, though; I never get over that one. I get ticked at the doctors when they go on beyond five minutes. I don't like to be bored. They pay us less for doing ER work but man, if I had to just do one specialty over and over and over again I would lose my mind.

Posted by: ilyka at October 16, 2004 06:01 AM

Heh heh.

The law firm I do work for has a website. And all of the partners -- and some of the associates -- have pictures of themselves.

Why I have to go look to see if they are anything like I think they look is beyond me. But I'm powerless to stop myself from looking.


Posted by: Margi at October 16, 2004 07:14 AM

I always include identifying info, I swear. And yes, you can type the patient's ID number into the phone keypad.

I did enjoy reading it. Tired now. I just finished a night on call and now I have to work Urgent care morning shift - because I am a glutton for punishment.

Posted by: Dr Alice at October 16, 2004 04:23 PM

My Mother-in-Law performs the same valuable service and offers up stories that are mind boggling.

Posted by: JThomas at October 20, 2004 01:45 PM