A shocking 30% of all medical orders are transcribed incorrectly. This is affecting 50,000 individuals annually and causing an accumulated loss of $17 billion to $29 billion to healthcare institutions. As per resect reports, majority of these mistakes are caused due to three major reasons.

The most prominent among these reasons is numerical mix-ups. It is a well-known fact that most drugs that are prescribed to patients do not have a fixed dosage schedule, and it is the doctors who use their intellect to come to a conclusion with regards to the dosage that should be administered to each patient.

Sometimes, due to variety of reasons ranging from difficulty in understanding the accent and dialect to the speed of delivery of dictation, transcribers can misinterpret the dosage prescribed by doctors. This can cause great harm to the life of the patient just like what happened in Alabama. In this particular case, an elderly woman who visited a hospital that was close to her home, rather than the regular one, to get an insulin shot lost her life due to a transcription error. Though the doctor dictated ‘8,’ the transcriptionist interpreted it as ’80’ in the medical records of her previous encounter. Based on these readings, the staff of the current hospital administered a dosage that was ten times higher than her regular insulin shots, which led to the untimely demise of the patient. In another instance, a woman from Massachusetts met the same fate after being administered a dosage of blood thinner that was 30 times higher than it should have been due to a transcription error.

The next reason that is adding to the mountain of transcription errors is the confusion caused due to similar-sounding words. There are a variety of similar-sounding words in medicine such as colostrum and claustrum. Misinterpreting them will mean that the patient will receive treatment for a brain condition rather than an existing breast condition or vice versa. Same is the case with words such dysphagia and dysphasia to hypotension and hypertension; and transcriptionists should be on their feet to get them right every single occasion.

The third most prominent reason that is contributing heavily to medical transcription woes is misinterpretation of homophones, which are essentially words that sound similar but have totally different meanings and spellings. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of such words in medicine.

Starting from radical and radicle, mucous and mucus, pleural and plural, ileum and ilium, the list goes on and on. Inexperienced transcribers can easily get confused while interpreting these words and they may mix them up, changing the entire meaning of the report.

Further complicating the situation is the fact that healthcare practices can’t take refuge in technology to spot or overcome these mistakes. This is because these technologies are still in their infancy and they are not equipped to handle the intricacies of medical transcription. In fact, a study by the International Journal of Healthcare Quality Assurance found, on average, 315,000 errors in every 1 million dictations captured by voice recognition software—a convincing argument that emphasizes that this software is way of the mark. The numbers of online transcription tools are even worse.   

The Way Out

The only plausible way in which you can check the menace of transcription errors without spending a fortune is by hiring a professional medical transcription service provider. In a field where speed and accuracy can mean the difference between life and death, these transcription companies’ leverage their experience and expertise to take utmost care in ensuring that your documents are exactly as you need them, when you need them. Utilizing state-of-the-art dictation technology and industry best practices, they provide well-rounded transcription processes along with personal attention to detail, which is essentially the key to eradicating even the tiniest errors and their heavy costs.

How do Medical Transcription Companies Tackle the Menace of Transcription Errors?

Medical transcription service providers tackle transcription errors on multiple levels. And as usual, their first line of defense is their expert team of medical transcriptionists.

Medical transcriptionists employed by these companies leverage their experience and training to make precise judgments on information that has to be included and excluded in the reports. They use their intuition along with a range of resources starting from dictionaries to drug references to differentiate homonyms, identify discrepancies in medical terms and complete the transcription. And once these transcriptionists are done with the job, the baton is passed on to proofreaders and editors. These professionals ensure that the information, steps, processes and course of action are meticulously detailed and precise. They make sure that there is no transposed numbers, transposed letters, spelling mistakes or capitalization errors. Leveraging their training they ensure that there is consistency regarding the plural forms of medical terms and usage of abbreviations.

Finally, they carry out a thorough review of words that sound similar but have a different meaning and spelling; and take into consideration the nature of the diagnosis to make sure that the end product is of the highest standard and offers utmost level of specificity. All this guarantees the best possible results to the clients.

The Bottom-line

In a cutthroat market, refraining from hiring a professional help may seem like a perfect way to cut corners. But having to pay for it with the lives of innocent people can prove to be much more costly. Unless you want to be the next big joke in the industry, it’s wise to opt for a specialized medical transcription service provider to handle your next medical translation requirements.

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Yeshwanth HV is a content manager at MedBillingExperts, a leading outsourced medical billing company providing a spectrum of billing, coding, 3D animation and medical transcription services to medical practitioners and healthcare organizations worldwide. Dedicated towards the healthcare industry, he has authored several blogs and articles that have received rave reviews in the industry. Prior to MedBillingExperts, Yeshwanth worked with CIO Review and has authored several bylined pieces for the quarterly editions of the magazine.

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