Health Guide USA
America's Online Health Resource Guide

Medical Transcriptionists | What Do They Do?

Medical transcriptionists typically do the following:

  • Listen to the recorded dictation of a doctor or other health professional
  • Transcribe the dictation into diagnostic test results, operative reports, referral letters, and other documents  
  • Edit drafts prepared by speech recognition software, making sure that the transcription is correct and has a consistent style
  • Translate medical abbreviations or jargon into the appropriate long form
  • Recognize inconsistencies within a report and follow up with the healthcare provider to ensure accuracy
  • Submit written reports for physicians to approve
  • Follow patient confidentiality guidelines and legal documentation requirements

Medical transcriptionists use audio playback equipment, often including a headset and foot pedal—to control the recording playback speed—that are connected to their computer. They use word-processing and other specialized software, as well as medical reference materials as needed.




To do their work, medical transcriptionists must become familiar with medical words, anatomy and physiology, diagnostic procedures, pharmacology, and treatment assessments. Their ability to understand and correctly transcribe what the health professional has said is critical to reducing the chance that patients will get ineffective or even harmful treatments. They are part of the team that ensures high-quality patient care.

Medical transcriptionists who work in doctors’ offices may have other duties, such as answering phones or greeting patients..

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition


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