How to Eliminate Medical Transcription Errors

Medical transcription is first and foremost about accuracy. You are creating part of the patient's medical record, which healthcare providers rely on to supply information necessary in that patient's treatment. You may think that with the sheer volume of medical reports that come across your desk, accuracy is bound to suffer, but there are several steps you can take to eliminate medical transcription errors.

Things You'll Need

  • Word expander program
  • Medical spell-check/dictionary
  • Medical transcription style guide


    • 1

      Use a word expander program, also known as text expanders or abbreviation expanders. These allow you to type only a few letters that expand into a long form. Type "tp" and you get "the patient." Type "opfor" and get your complete format for an operative report. Better yet, type a doctor's name followed by "ex" and expand it into that doctor's complete physical exam. These programs allow you type (and proofread) the long form only once, and it will be just as accurate a thousand uses later. Microsoft Word has its own AutoText expander, though it is limited. Commercial word expander programs hold many more shortcuts and cost between $100 and $200, but you will make your purchase price back many times over with the amount of keystrokes you save. Buy them online. Search the Internet under "word expander," "text expander," "abbreviation expander" or "shortcut expander."

    • 2

      Use an electronic medical spell-check/dictionary. If the company or doctor you work for provides one, great; if not, invest. These are also affordable, usually less than $100. They will save you time and the effort of looking up long and unusual medical words, whether by Internet search or manually. Medical spell-checkers will catch words you miss and give you suggestions. They can usually be easily updated as new words enter the medical lexicon. Search online under "electronic medical spell checker" to find one that suits you.

    • 3

      Bone up on your spelling and grammar skills. Know the difference between mucous and mucus or discrete and discreet. If the company or doctor you work for provides a medical transcription style guide, learn it. Otherwise, get a copy of the "Book of Style for Medical Transcription" from the Association of Healthcare Documentation Integrity. (See Resource 2.) Alternatively, an online style guide is also available at (See Resource 1.) Confused about using Roman numerals or Arabic numerals when typing cancer classifications? Find it in your style guide and eliminate medical transcription errors caused because you think you "did it that way last time."

    • 4

      Find the answers to your questions right away. Correct your typing errors when you make them. Or leave a big blank that you won't miss when you proofread. Many medical transcription errors slip through because, let's face it, you can feel mentally drained after transcribing a long report, a complicated operation or a doctor with a heavy accent. When you go back to fix errors you left in the interest of speed and just getting through the report, you may miss them. So, discipline yourself. If you're unsure of a term, if the doctor slurs a word---search for it right then. Make reaching for the backspace key to correct a typo as natural as hitting the return key.

    • 5

      Proofread, proofread, proofread. No matter how careful and accurate you think you are while transcribing, there is always room for error---not because you're careless but because, as a medical transcriptionist, your fingers fly over that keyboard, and mistakes are bound to happen. The only way to eliminate these types of medical transcription errors is to proofread. Proofread carefully. There's a big difference between ng (nanogram) and mg (milligram), and a small slip of the finger is all it takes to cause big problems. Proofreading will catch other errors as well and should be your last best effort to eliminate medical transcription errors before you send your report.

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