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Erratic Documentation – Some Red Flags to Avoid

Erratic DocumentationThe national statistics gathered on NHS care last year, have come up with mind-boggling news. According to the report there were 20,000 pregnant men in England. More alarmingly, over the same period, 17,000 men apparently required obstetric services, while a further 8,000 saw a gynecologist!

Surprised? These weird results are due to a series of data entry errors. It was revealed when the clinicians from the Imperial College London NHS Healthcare Trust reviewed all the available data from HESonline. This web portal holds all information and statistics for NHS care. Upon analyzing the data, the team found that the system relies on inputting three-digit medical codes. Therefore, even a single mistake while entering data can change the entire meaning. For example, a patient’s visit to a specialist eye clinic (460), if wrongly entered as 560 will change the meaning to a session with a midwife.

The reasons for documentation errors do not end here. It can happen due to a variety of other reasons as well.

Common Reasons for Errors in Data Inputs

Lack of concentration and an uncomfortable work environment with a lot of noise and distractions, often lead employees to make mistakes.

  • Copying errors may happen in cases such as the value 0(zero) can be mistakenly entered as ‘o’
  • Entering multiple values in a column/cell
  • Entering words instead of numbers
  • Range errors — responses outside the range of possible answers
  • Transposition errors — entering numerical data wrongly by interchanging digits, Example: 19 can be wrongly entered as 91

Data errors, especially in the healthcare sector raise serious care concerns. Accuracy in data capture is crucial, as it determines the decisions on how medical services should be delivered.

Reducing Mistakes When Documenting Details

Even though the occurrence of errors cannot be completely ruled out, the number of mistakes can be reduced by adopting some measures.

  • Arranging proper working conditions for employees performing data entry
  • Providing regular breaks between work
  • While collecting details, check for their validity and completeness
  • Check whether the source data contains range errors, so as to avoid inappropriate results such as age of a person greater than 110
  • Go with attainable deadlines
  • Reduce the effort of entering data by converting files to compatible formats, even with the help of an application for document conversion.

The quality of data has much to do with the efficiency of a business. High quality data enhances efficiency, drives profitability, and improves customer service. In contrast to this, erroneous data will result in confusing reports and defective business plans. All these factors highlight the need to have an error-free system for data entry.

About Julie Clements

Julie Clements

Joined the MOS team in March of 2008. Julie Clements has background in the healthcare staffing arena; as well as 6 years as Director of Sales and Marketing at a 4 star resort. Julie was instrumental in the creation of the medical record review division (and new web site); and has especially grown this division along with data conversion of all kinds.