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Transcription Error and Fatal Medication Overdose

Hospitals are always looking for ways to save money. There are some cost-cutting measures that do not present any danger to patients. Unfortunately, some hospitals are cutting corners in ways that put patient safety at risk. 

One of the popular money-saving measures is to outsource some of the recordkeeping, storage, and transcription of doctors’ recordings. This does not just involve finding a place to store records but to make sure the records are accessible and available to patients upon request. Transcripts have to be accurate and transmitted securely for patient privacy. This is not always the case. 

Fatal Transcription Error

Sharron Juno was receiving medical treatment for diabetes. She went to the hospital because an access port for kidney dialysis was blocked. The 59-year-old patient stayed in the hospital for a week and was discharged home. However, she developed complications after going home and was readmitted to the hospital. 

When the patient was admitted, she was given 80 units of insulin. However, her doctor had only prescribed 8 units of insulin. The excessive medication error led to brain damage, cardiopulmonary arrest, and finally, the patient’s death. Why had she been given such a high dose of medication? The patient’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit to get answers. After the trial, a jury awarded the family $140 million in damages for the fatal medication error. 

The discharging hospital used a transcription service based in India to prepare discharge summaries. When the nurse was preparing the medication information onto the admission order, the nurse used the discharge summary which contained an error, with the incorrect dosage. Apparently, even the doctors and nurses at the hospital were unaware the transcriptions were being provided by subcontractors in another country.

Overseas Transcription Services

Why do hospitals and medical providers use overseas transcription services? The answer is money. Medical transcription is still primarily done manually or reviewed manually after computer transcriptions get a first pass. With so much labor involved, it may be tempting to go to places where the cost of labor is much lower. 

In the short term, it may seem like the cost savings are worth shipping transcription services overseas. However, the quality of transcription in other countries may be much more inconsistent. There may be problems with miscommunication, terms of art, language barriers, or even different writing and speaking styles of regions. When these transcriptions involve important information, any error can be dangerous. Some of the possible errors could including incorrectly transcribed information, such as: 

  • Dosage
  • Medications
  • Route of administration of medication
  • Allergies
  • Dates
  • How often the drugs are to be taken
  • Name of the medication

When a company engages a transcription service overseas, it may be more difficult to know the qualifications and standards of the service. The overseas company could end up subcontracting out the work to less qualified or less reliable providers, without the hospital or doctors even knowing who was doing the transcription. 

Help After a Medical Malpractice Accident

If you have questions about negligent medical care that caused an injury, contact Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation. Fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today. 


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