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Transcription Errors

Many people die because of mistakes made in writing down their medical information. As a recent case shows, people are not willing to accept these errors anymore.

The case involved a diabetic who needed insulin. The care facility to which she was discharged tried to get her records, but they were not available, so the facility relied on a discharge summary dictated by her doctor at a hospital.

In this summary, the doctor instructed that she be given 8 units of insulin, but the medical transcription service (that turned his orders into a written document) wrote” 80 units.” The patient was then given an incorrect dosage of 10 times the amount of insulin she needed, and she died.

The jury deliberated only an hour. It returned a verdict of $140 million, twice what the plaintiff had asked for. As the population ages, the medical community will have to figure out a way to communicate better. The woman in this case died because of a typo, and the frequency of similar problems will only increase unless something is done now.