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When medical dictation error leads to patient injury

Physicians often use voice dictation or transcription services to help keep medical records or put together discharge instructions for patients. Although convenient, the process can lead to errors.

How common are medical dictation errors?

Unfortunately, these mistakes are not uncommon. A study published by the United States National Library of Medicine’s National Institutes of Health found approximately 315,000 errors per one million dictations. The researchers with the study called on medical professionals to implement quality assurance practices to reduce the risk of error.

The study specifically pushed against the use of physicians reviewing their own dictation as the only form of quality assurance. Instead, the group calls for a “secondary quality assurance process” to better ensure patient safety.

Recent changes likely increase the need for additional quality assurance practices. Many medical facilities are starting to rely on translation software to help communicate with patients who do not speak English. Although the software can prove helpful, an error can lead to serious injury. A review of this software’s use in the medical setting found 2% of Spanish instructions and 8% of Chinese instructions included errors that could have led to serious injury.

What happens if a transcription error leads to a serious injury?

Those who are seriously injured due to a dictation, transcription or translation error may have a medical malpractice claim. If successful, the claim can result in monetary awards to help cover the costs associated with the injury. This can include funds to cover bills for additional medical care, medications, therapy and lost wages.

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Law Offices of Raymond J. Slomski, P.C.

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