Monday, November 20, 2006

A note to doctors

It is my job to make sense out of your dictations so I have a few pointers for you.


1. Every time you race through a dictation and garble test results and technically difficult surgeries you waste my time and yours. I have to take extra time to figure out what you're saying while you eat your meals, speak at twice the speed of sound or fumble through technical jargon with an accent thick enough to cut peasant bread. When I leave blanks because I cannot decipher what it is you're saying then someone else has to take time away from their job to fill in the blanks. Most of the time they cannot figure out what you said either and must send the report back to you to fill in the blanks. You have wasted my time, their time and your time. If you would talk clearly and succinctly and spell out the difficult or unfamiliar words (not the easy ones since I know how to spell CT scan and radiograph already) you would save all of us a great deal of time.

2. Dictate your reports within a day or two so you don't have to waste my time while you leaf through the patient's file to figure out what you did two or three years ago and so you don't have to race through 500 reports in the space of 20 minutes (see above).

3. If English is your second language speak slowly and clearly and do it in a quiet environment, not at home with your kids screaming and running around so that you have to tell them to go to their mother or leave the room, not in your car on your cell phone with the windows down and the music on, and preferably in an area where cell phone coverage is clear and doesn't have dead zones. I cannot transcribe static into anything coherent. You waste my time and yours because you will inevitably have to dictate the report again, so please do it right the first time.

4. Read the patient's case file before you dictate and not while you're dictating. A 2-minute report should not have 15-30 minutes of dead air while you leaf through the report to familiarize yourself with the patient.

5. If you dictate the same operations over and over, please dictate a template and indicate changes where necessary. This saves us both a lot of time and you won't have to race through your dictations or dictate while you are eating, driving, bawling out your children, commenting on having sex with nurses and coworkers, or sneezing, coughing, and sniffling in my ear for 10 minutes while you dictate one page of copy.

6. If the patient broke his hand or had a table fall on his foot, of course there is no head trauma or loss of consciousness.

If you follow my suggestions we will all be happy. You will get clean and error-free reports that you will not have to go back and fix. I realize you have a difficult job and that you see a lot of patients, but remember these are people and you and I are responsible for making sure the report is accurate. I don't have to worry about malpractice, but you do. Keep that in mind when you dictate. I'm sure your insurance company will thank you, too. I certainly do.


That is all. Disperse.

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