Carolyn Bodley - Legal Verbatim Transcriptionist of Audio, Video & Digital Files

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Monday, August 30, 2010

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!

kitchenpot.jpgWith office cutbacks, downsizing, the poor economy, and whatever other reasons, I'm seeing more and more individuals getting into the transcription business.

While I'm the first to admit that transcription isn't brain surgery, it's not as simple as listening and typing. For one reason, listening and hearing are two different things. It's pretty simple to hear, but it's a lot harder to listen and type -- making your ears, brain and fingers work together.

Many of these new-found transcriptionists didn't even transcribe as 'employees' in their past employment. I'm all for giving people chances and that we all had to start someplace, but I don't think that gaining experience at the cost of clients, customers or whatever you want to call them is right. That's like closing the gate after the cattle have walked out and running freely on the range. 

The three most popular transcription "gigs" are student typing, legal and medical. I won't touch medical with a 10-foot pole. Why? Because even though I have some workers' comp experience, I don't consider myself anywhere near qualified enough to transcribe medical case history, reports, etc. I have three medical dictionaries, but to stop and look up the spelling of medical terminology when I don't know the correct spelling, or even sure if the word is correct, is counter productive.

I am also adamantly opposed to sending confidential medical reports offsite to some unknown to be transcribed. I have first-hand experience at how my life *almost* changed because of someone's ignorance, inexperience or just not caring or paying attention. I had a lump in my RIGHT breast. My doctor sent me for additional testing. The specialist reviewing the tests determined that the lump was suspicious and surgery was suggested. The day before surgery, my own doctor sent me to get the tests, reports, etc. to bring to the hospital the next day. The x-rays meant nothing to me, but I make a living with words. Even though I understood little of the medical terminology, I do understand the difference between LEFT and RIGHT. The report was one page. In the first two paragraphs it said RIGHT breast, RIGHT breast, RIGHT breast was suspicious and said the LEFT breast was normal. Then wham, in the last paragraph on the page, it said the LEFT breast was cause of concern. The transcriptionist was so concerned in equating money to keystrokes, she wasn't even hearing what she was listening to. No red flags, no yellow flags, no "hey, this is contradicting what I've typed throughout the report -- I need to flag it so someone will see." Whether the doctor himself dictated LEFT instead of RIGHT, or whether the transcriptionist was just bored and typed LEFT on her own doesn't matter -- the transcriptionist should have picked up on the discrepancy. What does matter is the INACCURATE typed report intended to be used during the surgery. How many people have their lives changed because of an inaccurate or inconsistent left or right, or a completely wrong diagnosis because the medical term, even though spelled correctly, was the wrong spelling for the correct word? Pretty scary to think of the surgeon with a scapel ready to cut the wrong organ from your body, or being prescribed the wrong medication for the wrong disease because of the inaccuracy of a typed medical report.

There is a fairly new transcriptionist on the Internet that is neither experienced in medial or legal -- and she is typing for both professions. It used to be that she would just post asking the correct spelling of one medical term. Now, she has begun posting 15-20 "unsure" terms at a time. She has no business playing roulette with people's lives. She has no business transcribing medical reports. A few days ago she posted that she has branched out to the legal field -- that she had a word that she isn't sure of the spelling, but it sounded like 'voo wah dear.' To protect innocent lives on the operating table and in the courtroom, this woman needs to go back to the real world and get a job where she will be under someone's control and checking that her *i's* are dotted and that her *t's* are crossed.

Transcription is not brain surgery, but the poor transriptionists give everyone a bad name. Maybe the kitchen is the right place for you afterall.

[end of blog]

9:39 am mdt 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

One space versus two spaces ...

The biggest reasons I began working for myself: office politics along with the cattiness, the backstabbing, the jealousy, the laziness ...error.jpg

Working for yourself in a transcription/secretarial business, you wear all the hats -- at least initially -- you are the worker bee, the marketeer, the accountant, the salesman. You make the rules. To be successful, you need to know in advance what to expect -- unless, you know a lot of people that are just going to give you work immediately, you are going to spend many hours, days, weeks, months and possibly years without a "billable" -- use this time wisely to market your services, hone your skills and expertise.

Although you won't know how much it's going to cost in overhead to work for yourself until you begin getting work, do some research on what and how others are charging. Don't set in stone someone else's rates and don't copy the business practice of others, making it your own. Don't simply pull a figure out of the sky because someone else has -- it may or may not be working for them, and you certainly don't know if it will work for you. 

This is not a "one size fits all" business -- nor should it be! Your skills, experience, expertise and clientele will determine what someone will pay for your services. I've always been a minority because I charge hourly -- and I've never had a problem charging hourly. There are all sorts of charge rates out there -- line rate, page rate, character rate, audio hour (the length of the audio tape and NOT the length of time it takes to transcribe) ... From reading transcription forums, it is my opinion that 99.9% of these charge rates actually come back and bite the person in the butt, because until you actually hear the quality of the audio, you have no idea how long it will take to transcribe -- if not charging hourly, there is no way to place a value on your time. These are the same people that type the audio but tell the client that it is their (i.e., the client's) responsibility to proof. I actually have to chuckle when I read this, because how many of the clients are actually going to go back and listen to the audio word-for-word?--if they are going to take the time to do that, they could have just typed it themselves to begin with.

The biggest laugh I'm having this week is an ongoing discussion of how, by default, Word inserts one space after the period instead of two spaces. I can't believe the number of people crying because they are losing money because of the one space.

For grins, I've grabbed a report I previously typed that has 100 pages, 36 text lines per page. The report is single-spaced with double-spacing between paragraphs. I've randomly counted twelve sentences per page. Three of the sentences end a paragraph, so those periods are a moot point because there's no space(s) after them -- that brings us down to nine periods on the page. Roughly, with one space after the period, there are 900 periods in the  total report. Inserting two spaces after each period might possibly stretch the report a half-a-page. If 900 versus 1800 spaces or 100 pages versus 101-1/2 pages is going to make or break a transcriptionist, they better pack it up because this is NOT the business they should be in.

[end of blog]

8:44 am mdt 

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With a typing speed of 120 wpm, Carolyn Bodley began offering independent contractor/secretarial and transcription services to the Denver metro legal community in 1992.

I am not a court reporter or medical transcriptionist and I don't videotape depositions -- I'm strictly a legal transcriptionist which means putting spoken words on paper. All my transcripts contain a certification stating that to the best of my knowledge, belief and ability, the audio/video I received has not been altered in any way, and the transcript is true, accurate and complete. I have never been advised that a court rejected one of my audio or video transcripts. If my transcript is rejected by the court, you will be reimbursed in full for my services. Because I certify that the transcript is true and complete, the entire audio/video must be transcribed--I am unable to transcribe "just a portion" that you need. 

I guarantee that your transcripts will be typed confidentially, accurately and with attention to detail at a fair price.

  • Discovery is often turned over in a format other than hard copy. This discovery includes, but is not limited to, recorded telephone conversations, police interviews, depositions, investigations, witness statements, and more. The audio and video "words" need to be put to paper, and your already overworked legal staff often don't have the skills, equipment, the inclination or the time.
  • Discovery is often the deciding factor of whether a case goes to trial. Most of us hear, but do we listen? Recently I transcribed a video that had been viewed and listened to several times and by several people before I transcribed it. There was a one sentence statement that not one person caught -- this one sentence was not the only reason the case was dismissed one day before trial--however, it carried quite a bit of weight -- and I'm the only one that "heard" it. Had the video never been transcribed, how many other words would never have been heard?

Add-On Services:

  • laser color printing
  • laminating
  • spiral binding
  • proofreading/editing your work product

Your Documents are Your Reputation ...
Making Them Look Good is Mine!©1992-2016 Carolyn Bodley

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