Keep Clam and Proofread

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of proofreading.

Okay, technically that’s not true. You could, for example, say that proofreading well is more important than eating regularly. That’s obviously false, in addition to being totally ridiculous.

But there are some contexts in which proofreading is very important, because mistakes are costly. Radiology reports are an excellent example.

Did you know that one study found that 36% of finalized radiology reports produced with speech recognition systems had errors of varying significance? That’s right, more than a third of radiology reports produced and signed by physicians had mistakes!

Want some statistical perspective? Your odds of surviving Russian roulette are more than twice as good as your odds of having a radiologist produce an error-free report on your recent imaging study. Pretty sobering.

Here’s something even more sobering: In general, a radiologist who uses speech recognition dictates exactly what he means to say. If a recording of his voice, instead of the computer-generated transcription, were the final record of the results, the error rate would be nearer to zero. So what’s the problem?

Two problems, really:

  • In general, it’s very hard to proofread your own work. If our radiologist dictated exactly what he meant to say, but something else appeared on the screen, he very likely “saw” exactly what he “said” – even if the two don’t match. Ever produce an important document, look over it multiple times, have it printed in color and bound, given it to your boss – and THEN find your typo? Same thing!

  • Radiologists are as good at multitasking as you are, which is to say “not very.” People can only really do one thing at a time. When we think we are multitasking, we are in fact managing a series of micro interruptions. Think about it – radiologists have been trained to interpret an image while dictating. That’s the equivalent of reading email while talking on the phone. Checking the accuracy of the speech recognition system WHILE interpreting and dictating? That’s like reading an email and talking on the phone – while in a meeting with someone else. Mistakes are certain to be made.

A tipo typo in a blog post isn’t that big of a deal. But a mistake in a radiology report can kill someone, cause lawsuits, decrease referrals, and result in over- or under-billing. If you’ve been in the radiology profession for any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly seen each one of these consequences of a preventable error. If this doesn’t worry you, it probably should.

So what to do? SpeechCheck helps radiology professionals make sure their reports say what they’re supposed to say! What gets measured gets improved: Documents are assessed for baseline quality, and quality metrics are reevaluated after customized training in dictation and proofreading best practices. SpeechCheck clients show an immediate and demonstrable decrease in documentation errors.

As a radiology professional, you have a lot to worry about. Let us take documentation quality off of that list.

Posted by: Ken Schafer

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