This article, "MT.Con: The Cockroach Problem In Medical Transcription", is intended for medical transcriptionists, MTSOs, physicians, medical records administrators, and student MTs.


(continued) 7. Sporadic availability of work, and its corollary: 8. Benefits tied to production, which is not always attainable 9. Unpaid time - tech issues, re-recording, phone calls, research 10. Dishonest and/or unethical business practices 11. Schools which promise but fail to deliver quality education 12. "Association" fails to represent our interests 13. Many MTs never see their co-workers because they work in isolation

People, what we've got here is a cockroach problem -- and it will take all of us working together to solve it.

How many of us are in abusive relationships?

Unless you live on Pluto, you have heard of this book. In the summer of 1999, galled by talk of welfare reform and kick-started by a conversation with the editor of Harper's, the respected journalist Barbara Ehrenreich left her comfortable Key West home with just over $1,000, a working car, and a laptop computer, to discover if it is possible to survive, indoors, on $6 to $7 an hour. Her story will entertain, disturb, and enlighten you.

1. Declining line rates

On the morning of July 10, 2002, the following recruitment ad was posted on a job board for MTs:

Part-Time/Full-Time Family Practice-Cardiology Transcriptionists
(company name and address)
Must have 3+ years experience
Independent contractor - work at home!
Requirements: (an extensive, and expensive, list of hardware, software, and reference books)
Rate: 6 cpl, 62 characters, without spaces (training pay)
Offshore MTs and MTSOs need not apply.

Within less than three hours, an MT who should have known better posted a reply to this pathetic advertisement.

The line rate listed for this job -- and this is far from the only example -- is so low it is not on the line count matrix on this website. Even if it were, the job would still pay approximately 20% less than the listed amount because spaces take up about 20% of an average report. To illustrate my point, here are a few sentences, typed and counted by various methods.

HISTORY OF PRESENT ILLNESS: The patient is a 76-year-old white male admitted with congestive heart failure. The patient has a history of insulin-dependent diabetes, left great toe amputation, systemic lupus erythematosus, cataract extraction, and recent URI. Screening colonoscopy was performed a year ago, with negative findings. The patient denies nocturia, hesitancy, or frequency.

385 characters/55 cpl including spaces = 7 lines, or the commonly used 385/65 cpl including spaces = 5.923 lines. At a rate of 10 cents per line, a rate which approaches a fair level of compensation, you would earn 70 cents or 59.23 cents, depending on line length, for typing the above paragraph.

The sample paragraph contains 51 (unpaid) spaces, reducing the character count to 334. Divided by 62, you now have 5.387 lines. Multiply that by 6 cents and you get the grand sum of 32.322 CENTS. Training pay? Training for what? This "job" requires 3+ years' experience! Remember Esmeralda^, who now makes half what she made ten years ago?


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