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Medical Transcriptionists


Health care documentation dates back to the beginnings of medical treatment. Doctors used to keep their own handwritten records of a patient's medical history and treatment. After 1900, medical stenographers took on this role. Stenographers worked alongside doctors, writing down doctors' reports in shorthand. This changed with the invention of the dictating machine, which led to the development of the career of medical transcription.

The first commercial dictating machine, using a wax cylinder record, was produced in 1887. It was based on Thomas A. Edison's phonograph invented in 1877. Technology has come a long way since then. Recent advances in the field include Internet transcription capabilities and voice (or speech) recognition software. The latter electronically transcribes recorded spoken word, which means that a medical transcriptionist does not have to type out all the dictation. Given the complexity of medical terminology, however, voice recognition programs are likely to make mistakes, so there is still plenty of work for the medical transcriptionist, who must carefully proofread the report to catch and correct any errors.