Learning to Love Speech Recognition Technology


Marketing Manager

Recently, a Cancer Registrar knocked on the door to the Medical Records Manager’s office, and said: “I can’t stand it anymore!  Can we please let the transcriptionists know that histology is not spelled, ‘hystology’?”

The Medical Records Manager agreed to address the problem, indicating that a machine (not a person) would be given “re-training”.

With all that technology promises, it certainly has its limitations.

Here are some examples of machine transcription bloopers and what should have been translated/transcribed:

  • “Consideration for biopsy of the abdominal thyroid nodule could be considered.” / “Consideration for biopsy of the ABNORMAL thyroid nodule could be considered.”
  • “Oral internal fixation of proximal humerus” (ouch!). / “OPEN internal fixation of proximal humerus”.
  • “Patient with prostate cancer. Discussed wrist, benefits and alternatives.” / “Patient with prostate cancer. Discussed RISKS, benefits and alternatives.”
  • “Not really instituted right now.” / “Not really INTERESTED right now.”
  • “Patient currently works to full time jobs leads at 7 in the morning for his day job but operating company.” / “Patient current works TWO full time jobs; LEAVES at 7 in the morning for his day job AT BOTTLING company.”  (maybe?)
  • “Will consider RT to pelvic notes” / “Will consider RT to pelvic NODES”.
  • “Near obstructing cervical chills tumor”. / “Near obstructing cervical chills tumor”.  (Still pondering this one).
  • “Age 3 adenocarcinoma”. / “STAGE 3 adenocarcinoma”.
  • “Ulcerative sleep apnea”. / “OBSTRUCTIVE sleep apnea”.
  • “It peers increased in size”. / “It APPEARS (to be) increased in size”.
  • “Focal extra-prosthetic extension is identified in the left prostatic base”. / “Focal extra-PROSTATIC extension is identified in the left prostatic base”.
  • “Achilles Heal”. / “Achilles HEEL”.
  • “Referred by Dr. Smith, to houma report will be sent”. / “Referred by Dr. Smith, to WHOM A report will be sent”.
  • “Splincter Tone Normal”. / “SPHINCTER Tone Normal”.
  • “Launch will waiting for BPH”. / “WATCHFUL WAITING for BPH”.
  • “Does note that the smell orthotic boot maker nauseous.” / “Does note that the smell OR THOUGHT OF FOOD MAKES HER nauseous.”
  • “Patient was waited for the source of her confusion”. / “Patient was EVALUATED for the source of her confusion”.
  • “Ending pain sing masses seen in posterior aspect of the uterus”. / “ENHANCING masses seen in posterior aspect of the uterus”.

Probably not the machine’s fault:

  • “Consistent with carcinoma and appears indeterminate.” 
  • “Sessile polypoid mass in bladder”. 
  • “History of C-Section” (Male patient).
  • “Brother deceased x 2”.

Have you had any of your own speech recognition failures?  Example – creating a text message via speech recognition – how often does your phone transcribe a message with zero errors?  It doesn’t happen often for me resulting in many humorous messages to others!

On my wish list: A T-shirt that says, “Made Using Speech Wreck Ignition Technology”.

Over time speech recognition will become more and more perfected.  In the meantime, try to find the humor in technology – laughter is the best medicine!

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay