Medical Transcription: Words That Sound Alike

In many areas of the medical field, people think that almost anyone who can type and use spell check can be a medical transcriptionist. There are many reasons why a medical transcriptionist that is properly trained receives a good wage. There is much that a medical transcriptionist must know in order to produce an accurate report. This article will explore a few of the word groups that sound alike (homonyms).

There are many groups of words that sound alike (homonyms) in the English language and in the medical field; but their meanings are very different, and can change the whole outcome of a medical written report if not used correctly. You may say, "Is it such a big deal if there are a few mistakes in a patient's report?" The answer is that this is considered a legal document and has an affect on possible insurance claims, future diagnoses, operations, and plans of treatment. A simple mistake could mean big problems for the person whose report is inaccurate.

Here are some examples of word groups (homonyms) that the medical transcriptionist must know whether they fit in a report or not and flag them for inspection if they do not seem to fit:

  • alveolar - pertaining to an alveolus
  • alveoli - plural of alveolus
  • alveolus - a small saclike dilatation
  • alveus - a trough or canal
  • alvus - the abdomen with its contained viscera
  • abduction - a drawing away from the midline
  • addiction - dependence on a drug or some habit
  • adduction - a drawing toward the midline
  • dysphagia - difficulty in swallowing
  • dysphasia - impairment of the faculty of speech
  • dysplasia - abnormality in develo9pment of tissues or body parts
  • dyspragia - painful performance of any function
  • dyspraxia - partial loss of ability to perform coordinated acts
The above are just a few examples of words that sound alike but could change the meaning of a medical report dramatically. Add to the sound-alike word groups the fact that very few doctors speak clearly when dictating and many times mispronounce words. The only choice for a medical transcriptionist is to know the subject and be able to put in the proper word or leave a blank space in the middle of the report for someone else to fill in.

Another area where words sound alike but have different meanings involves medications. My personal preference is that my medical reports are correct and accurate so that I can receive the best possible patient care my doctor can give. A doctor cannot remember every detail about a patient, and the reports are extremely important as the doctors, nurses, and medical staff uses them to make decisions on a patient's care.

It is important for patients to read their reports and understand what is written for their own protection, as many establishments are now having doctors type their own reports or under-qualified people type them. If a doctor moves to another practice or is unavailable, the report stands as a legal document. This happened to a friend of mine who went to the doctor for an insurance claim and the doctor dictated the wrong reason for the patient's visit. Insurance companies may look for any loophole to deny a claim. This particular incident caused the insurance company to deny the claim ultimately and left the patient in limbo for medical care.

Other blogs I have written on this subject are:
  1. Medical Transcription: Getting Started
  2. Medical Transcription: Learning Medical Terms

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