Check Please: Proofreading Your Transcription Reports


Avoid Making Simple Errors

There are worse things than making a proofreading mistake involving a concept you know really well, but it sure does feel pretty frustrating. There is a relatively simple trick that can help you avoid the avoidable error. It’s called a checklist.

Proofing dramatically increases patient safety

It may sound too simple to be effective, but consider this interesting fact about checklists: In 2009, the World Health Organization began promoting checklist use in operating rooms – the Surgical Safety Checklist. This checklist is now used throughout the world and is believed to have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Overlooking basic patient safety measures had been found to be the most common cause of patient injury and death during surgical operations. The Surgical Safety Checklist is a quick and easy method of ensuring that basic patient safety measures are followed each and every time, dramatically increasing patient safety. You can use the same tool—the checklist—to ensure that you don’t overlook basic proofreading procedures. No lives will be saved, but you are certain to experience less frustration when reviewing exam scores!

Applying checklists to transcription

What goes on a proofreading checklist? Everyone’s list can and should be customized to fit their own needs, but these basics should always be included:

  • Review the Account Specifics against the final report.
  • Read the report without listening to the audio to check for medical and logistical sense.
  • Read the report while listening to the audio to ensure there are no omissions and that all dictation is transcribed correctly.
  • Verify all spellings in an appropriate resource.

There may be other proofreading techniques that you find especially helpful, such as checking for spelling errors by reading the report in reverse order (last word to first word) or reading a report aloud. You can add these items to your checklist.

Identify your weaknesses

If there are certain types of errors that tend to recur for you, add these items to your checklist. For example, if you struggle with verb tense, a particular mark of punctuation, or whether to use a heading in a certain situation, include them on your checklist so you can scrutinize these areas of your report in particular. If you forget to look up medication spellings, add this reminder to your list. Is there a term that plagues you—maybe a certain sound-alike term? Add it to your checklist!

Stay organized

Write out your checklist and post it in your work area so you don’t forget to consult it during your practice sessions. You might consider printing out a stack of checklists and get into the habit of completing a checklist for each report. The latter might be an especially effective strategy for exam dictations.

You can create a checklist by writing it out in longhand or you can type up a list of items. Alternatively, you can format a checklist using a visually appealing template. Visit and search for “lists” to find sample checklist templates that you can download. If you are a visual person, you can employ color coding or add graphical elements.

Important Tip: Update your checklist regularly whenever you discover an avoidable error!

You can use a checklist for any list of steps that you want to remember. Do a Google search to learn more about using checklists in other areas of your life—from finances to nutrition to time management!