Listened to a Doctor and His Lunch Today

And no, despite the lateness of the hour, my fingers (the two I use for typing) did not stray when I typed the title.  I did a stack of ex parte orders and Statements of Facts today, but this morning I finished transcribing a doctor’s report that I left behind at the end of work yesterday.

This is not one of the doctors whose reports I dread.  This doctor (we’ll call him Dr. Kildare, after the hero of the movie and radio serials of the ’30s and ’40s–it’s better than typing “this doctor” over and over) dictated a 10-minute report, and I did not shudder when I clicked on it to type.

After nearly six years, I know what to anticipate when I see a physician’s name in the “To be Transcribed” queue.  A certain doctor always mumbles; another one mumbles and dictates too quickly; yet another one’s dictation varies on whether he records before or after Happy Hour; this one is very conscientious and will spell out the names of unusual drug names and ailments for you, etc.

Those of us on the receiving end–the ones doing the transcribing–have to hold up our end as well.  Most importantly, I have to listen to phrases and words in context, since many drug names and medical phrases sound similar, and remember lots of spelling rules that don’t make any sense at first.  (She was atraumatic, as opposed to It was a traumatic event.  The first C in cervical is pronounced like “Sam,” while the second one sounds like “cat.”  So far, the only real mistake I’ve made was when I was still quite green at the job: I typed fecal sac instead of thecal sac.)

I heard horror stories from other medical transcriptionists–including my mother–about doctors who cough in your ear, mumble, swear, run words together and then stop and gasp before continuing, but today was a unique experience.

About four minutes into his 10-minute dictation, I heard something while he was dictating.  (He was reading verbatim from an X ray report, and I had gone into our scanned documents, pulled up the document in a smaller Window onscreen, and was typing the words as I saw them and as he read them.)  At first, I thought the sound was paper rustling.  I’ve heard it many times, as the doctor reads one paper and searches for another one at the same time.

It was rustling, but not of paper.  “She had an MRI of the cervical spine on–” was interrupted by a loud crunch sound, and then the sound continued.  For the next few minutes, he averaged several crunches for every word that he dictated.  The guy was eating while he dictated, and apparently he was eating potato or corn chips!  I was glad to hear what sounded like his crumpling up the empty bag and throwing it away, and then he (I suppose, listening to the sounds) wiped his mouth with a napkin and gave the dictation his full attention.

Before his snack, I heard someone knock on his door, and I heard about 45 seconds of a conversation with a nurse.  It was about Mrs. So-and-So’s chart and did it need to be copied?

I wish I could find those kids’ telephone etiquette posters that used to hang in the hallways of my various elementary schools.  They featured animals showing how you shouldn’t be when you’re talking on the phone. I would send this doctor this poster, especially one of a goat with a phone receiver in his mouth, their way of saying that eating and talking at the same time is a no-no.

When Susie was younger, I used to dread having to call the houses of her friends.  Either the friend, or a younger sibling, answered.  After asking, “May I speak to your mom (or dad)?” I would then brace myself, holding the receiver a good five or six inches from my ear.  Almost immediately, the very high-decibel, “MOMMY!!  PHONE!!!” blasted out of the earpiece, because the kid inevitably would not cover the mouthpiece or turn his/her head away from it.

The long list of inconsiderate things cell phone users do is a subject that has been done to death in conversation, newspaper columns, letters to the editor, and blogs.  I haven’t witnessed much cell phone rudeness first-hand, although I hear complaints about how someone will be on their phone on a crowded bus, jabbering loudly about their genital warts or their spouses’ infidelities.

Wrong numbers are frequent with cell phones, since no one retains the same number for very long.  It changes when they buy a new phone, switch the service, etc.  Callers don’t seem to understand that the original owner of the phone will not come back if you just keep calling.  I have received calls from collection agencies asking for a particular woman almost from the day I started using the phone I have now, and no matter how many times I tell the collection agencies, they keep calling.  (Although I do admit it’s a relief to have a collection agency call and have it not be for me.)

I’m going to try and grab some sleep, since the day comes all too soon.  These next few days won’t be nearly as sleepless as last week (subject of an upcoming post), but I’m still a bit estranged from my bed.