I recently received an e-mail from a transcriptionist who described a situation that I think will surprise most medical transcriptionists. It's an issue I found especially interesting in light of a post by Nae at MT Chat, and the responses it got: Yep, my ESP is working real well today doc …
I hadn't even discussed this with Nae, so when she posted that thread, she was not aware of this MT's e-mail to me.
Let me preface this by saying there are usually 2 sides to a story and I only have one, so my conclusions are going to be based on that. I'm not going to name names, but if any MTSOs have had a similar experience from their side, or if you're in management and you think this is your company, I'd like to hear the “other” side.
In a nutshell, an MT who was being paid a premium line rate because of her experience and skills on multiple accounts, was demoted due to “potential reportable events” (PREs) involving privacy and security breaches.
The reason? Selecting the wrong doctor as attending, and sending a copy to the wrong physician. In the first case, the error was noted by the MT, but too late – the report had already been sent in, at which point it was immediately distributed. Even though the MT sent an e-mail, noting the error, this error was counted in the disciplinary action that was taken against her. In the second instance, the name dictated sounded almost exactly like another name – and the MT selected the incorrect name.
As amusing as it is to say “we can't read your mind, doc,” I'm wondering if some of the people responding to that post at MT Chat want to rethink their answer. Although Nae's example is “send a copy to Dr. Patel,” in a case where there are multiple doctors with that name, it could have easily been “send a copy to Dr. Smith,” where there are not only multiple Dr. Smiths on a list, but Dr. Smyth, Smythe and etc. All it takes is one large university hospital or VA account to realize there are many, many ways to spell names we all thought had a common spelling, for both patients and physicians. With no training and no physician list, it would be obvious to an MT that picking the correct one among a number of Dr. Patels is impossible and needs to be flagged to QA – but what about Dr. Carter v. Karter? If someone says “send a copy to John Carter” and you find a John Carter on the roster – would you look any further to see if there was also a John Karter and therefore flag the report to someone up the food chain?
In my opinion, there were a couple of errors that occurred prior to the MT making the error.
- It was a new account and no training was given.
- No physician list was provided, including a list of attendings and their fellows or residents.
- The MT company has no written policy regarding PREs and how they will be handled.
- The MT company has no written policy regarding disciplinary action to be taken in the case of MT errors of this kind.
- No software safeguards are in place.
- As is usually the case, training for dictators at the facility also appears to be substandard – GIGO.
Some of these seem like no-brainers, don't they? I don't know how anyone can be expected to perform with minimal errors on a new account without any direction or instructions, regardless of how experienced they are. An experienced MT may be able to pick up and transcribe any dictator at any facility – but years of experience is going to give an MT the ability to somehow instinctively grasp account specifics.
This is not a small company, this MT is not an independent contractor. The disciplinary action taken cut the MT's pay by 20% to 25% yet there's no written policy in place. No inservice on HIPAA, no training on the account, no written disciplinary policy – but with no warning, the company takes action that cuts pay 25%.
Hello, MT employees – have you asked your employer what the written policy is for your company? What happens when a mistake like this happens? What are your responsibilities? What disciplinary action may be taken against you? What recourse do you have?
Technology being what it is, why doesn't the EMR software – that same software that immediately routes the transcript to all interested parties upon completion by the MT unless it's flagged – have some safeguards built in? I realize that EMR technology is evolving, but is anyone doing anything to ensure that copies don't go to Dr. Carter if he's not involved in the patient's care and Dr. Karter is? If not, why not? You'd think that while everyone is out spending money on streamlining the process and reducing labor costs, they'd also be doing something to ensure security is more automated. Even a delay of a certain number of minutes would be helpful (something like the 7-second delay on newscasts), so if errors are caught shortly after the report is completed, there's some hope of rerouting it before it's gone out for distribution.
Are MTs paid enough to take on this kind of responsibility? Are YOU paid enough to take on this kind of responsibility? What I see happening is that more and more MTs will send every questionable physician name to QA or to the hospital staff to deal with. Then, someone will get mad – probably at the MTs. Because it seems nobody is willing to hold the dictators responsible. So here's a tip for all you working MTs out there – unless you're 100% certain, flag that report. The sooner these questions start piling up on the desks of people who are actually paid enough to deal with PREs, the sooner the problem will be resolved.
This situation was a FAIL of epic proportions, primarily on the part of the transcription service for not having policies in place, by not having in-service sessions for employees to train in HIPAA compliance and on account specifics. Well, shame on management for taking its shortcomings out on the transcriptionist.