The MT profession usually isn't this interesting! I read on one of the forums about an MT losing her job for putting the wrong name to send a copy - I thought that was extreme, but with records being sent over seas I think we have more to worry about!
Could Osama bin Laden and other terrorists have access to the medical records of thousands of retired and active duty American military personnel? That's one possibility according to a story of overseas outsourcing, broken promises, corporate intimidation and massive technological failure told by Susan Purdue, a former employee of the MedQuist medical transcription company. (A full interview will air Sunday afternoon from 1 until 4 p.m.on WWNC-AM 570.)
Purdue said MedQuist, had contracted with the Veterans Administration to transcribe voice dictation from doctors at Veterans Administration Medical Centers around the world. According to Purdue, some of this transcription work has been done by offshore workers in India and Pakistan. Purdue says American transcriptionists are paid 10 to 12 cents per line. Companies in India and Pakistan will do an entire page of notes for less than 25 cents. MedQuist's Web site notes the company has "10,000 US/based transcribers." No mention is made of overseas workers.
Purdue served as the Asheville office's computer systems administrator. As such she routinely saw transcribed files that were being transferred back to the company's file servers. She said she first noticed something was wrong shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. "I noticed documents coming through the system that were dated 12 to 14 hours in the future. I couldn't understand that. We had a company rule that we would provide a 24 hour turnaround. Accurate time stamping was critical. When I asked management where those files were coming from I was told they were offshore stuff. I thought Bermuda or the Bahamas. They said no, it was India and Pakistan."
Realizing the Veterans Administration hospital system was one of the firm's largest customers, Purdue said she asked, "Are veterans records being transcribed in India and Pakistan?" Purdue said her manager told her to mind her own business, get back to work, do her job. "I assumed it was private work coming in and for a while I ignored it."