Resources for Medical Transcriptionists

Vol. 12 •Issue 6 • Page 14
AAMT Track

Resources for Medical Transcriptionists

At the American Association for Medical Transcription (AAMT) we are often asked if there is a standard approach that employers of in-house transcriptionists take in providing reference materials for medical transcriptionists (MTs). When each workstation is equipped with its own references, much less time is wasted getting up and consulting books in another area or borrowing books from another MT. In particular, when the MTs’ income is based on production, it is only fair to see that they have as many timesaving features as possible. The following list of references will ideally be available at each workstation:

•an unabridged medical dictionary;

•an English dictionary;

The AAMT Book of Style for Medical Transcription, 2nd edition;

•a current drug reference;

•a laboratory/pathology reference;

•an abbreviations reference; and

•wordbooks for the specialties encountered most often.

Note that having current references is very important, but having a current drug reference is crucial. Additionally, a central reference area within the department should include:

•an anatomy book;

•a medical equipment wordbook;

•other grammar/punctuation/style books;

•a secretary’s handbook (if you do a lot of letters);

•other specialty word books, as needed;

•a more detailed laboratory reference;

•additional abbreviation books;

•other available books, such an eponyms reference; and

•local telephone directories as needed.

Internet resources are also invaluable. Particularly useful search engines include the National Library of Medicine’s Medline (, where peer-reviewed articles that have appeared in medical journals for the past 30+ years are abstracted, and the U.S. Trademark Web site ( when searching for a product name. Even an Internet search engine like AltaVista ( or Google ( is extremely useful in helping to find, for instance, an experimental drug which, while it has not made the standard medical or pharmaceutical reporting agencies, is already in the financial news because of the expected future profits for its manufacturer. There are also several Web sites created by and for MTs, including AAMT’s site (, which will soon be unveiling a number of new resources and links for its members.

With The AAMT Book of Style for Medical Transcription, AAMT has a tradition of promoting professionalism, education and good communication practices among transcriptionists. The 2nd edition of the Book of Style, due out this spring, reflects many improvements suggested by users of the book over the years. We have also kept an ear tuned to the health care community, and the new book will reflect some changes in documentation practices. For example, with the 2nd edition we follow the advice of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) by dropping such abbreviations as q.d., h.s., q.h.s., q.o.d., U, IU, and mg, which have all appeared on the list of dangerous abbreviations and dose designations published by ISMP in 2001 ( The revision process involved several editor-MTs—including the book’s original author, Claudia Tessier—writing and making suggestions for additions, amplifications, revisions and deletions.

Resources and references are key for a medical transcriptionist to generate quality documentation, and AAMT is proud of being at the forefront of providing such resources.

Peg Hughes is AAMT’s Director of Professional Practices and principal editor of The AAMT Book of Style for Medical Transcription, 2nd edition.

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