The Importance of Having Accurate Transcriptions

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Since a transcription document is essentially a written version of what someone has said, it must be done accurately. Transcription in some industries may allow a little room for error, but others are not so forgiving. For example, in fields like HR, legal, and medical, one tiny mistake could change the context of an entire document, potentially putting reputations, credibility, jobs or even lives at risk. For this reason, automated transcriptions and cheaper alternatives just don’t cut it. You need experienced professional transcribers who can always provide accurate transcriptions.

In this article, we’ll look at the reasons why transcriptions need to be accurate for different industries, and the pitfalls that can be avoided by using a reputable transcription company.

Why Do We Record Everything?

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There’s an old mantra: “If it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.” Whilst everyone knows this is just a popular saying in the business and medical world, the truth is that when it comes to being able to prove whether something happened or was said, accurate records must be kept. How many people have been burned with a verbal promise in business that wasn’t written down or recorded?

A pertinent example of this is the buyout of the McDonald’s franchise in 1961, where the McDonald brothers later claimed that Ray Kroc cheated them in a handshake deal that was never honoured – a deal that today would be worth over 100 million dollars every year to their families.

The McDonald brothers were never able to produce written or recorded evidence of this deal, and so they could never prove beyond doubt that it had taken place. For more information on this, read the CBS article The real “Founder”.

For some simple purposes, a handwritten note, a letter, an email or a report will suffice as evidence, but many industries and organisations need to keep more detailed records. Meetings, interviews, discussions and focus groups, along with any conclusions and decisions made as a result of these conversations, need to be accurately recorded. It would be completely impractical to write or type these in full as they’re taking place, which is why these events are frequently recorded as audio or video so that they can be typed up later by a transcriber.

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It’s at this crucial stage – the transcription of the recording – that mistakes can become incredibly costly. Errors in transcription, even small ones, can have significant knock-on effects. In some industries or situations, the wrong digit, word, or phrase in a transcription – or even a quote being attributed to the wrong speaker – can cause irreparable damage to people’s reputations, careers, and lives. Therefore, every care must be taken to ensure transcriptions are correct from start to finish.

In addition to this, having an accurate representation of discussions can be essential to making key decisions. Examples of this include establishing whether an employee is at fault for something, whether a defendant in a case is telling the truth, or what the side effects of a new trial medication are. Again, the slightest inaccuracy could influence a decision unfairly or lead to devastating medical outcomes, so accurate transcription of these interviews and discussions is essential.

Who Needs Transcriptions?

In our experience, three main industries rely on transcriptions being 100% correct at all times: HR, Law, and Medical, and anyone operating in these fields will need to find a reliable transcription partner they know they can trust.

HR

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Human Resources is a huge part of most businesses, organisations, and governmental bodies, with many moving and often changing parts. One of the biggest challenges faced by anyone in HR is accurate paperwork and record-keeping. Meetings, interviews, phone calls and virtual conversations are all part of the daily activities in a busy HR environment, and they need to be recorded accurately and comprehensively for legal and ethical purposes.

Other key areas for HR include performance reviews, KPI developments, disciplinaries, recruitment and offboarding interviews. After recording these events, they can then be fully transcribed for a precise record that can be easily examined and referred to, without making extra work for the HR teams. Nobody wants to listen to hours of discussions to find that one particular point or decision that was made! A transcript makes it so much easier to find any salient information.

Accuracy is essential here to ensure that everything is done correctly and that no one is mistreated or misled. Inaccurate transcription of a disciplinary meeting, for example, could result in an employee receiving a mark on their record that they didn’t deserve, or having the length of a punishment extended because the transcriber accidentally typed a ‘2’ instead of a ‘1’. Due to the highly sensitive nature of this industry and the matters discussed, there’s also a need for HR transcription to be fully confidential. Again, this is where outsourcing to a reliable and trustworthy transcription company can be useful, as they will have no direct association with the company or its employees and can have an NDA in place for complete protection.

Legal

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Whether the matter being discussed is large or small, there’s no room for error in legal cases, and errors in transcribing can be catastrophic.

One example of this is with Carlos Ortega, a man who at 66 years old was enjoying semi-retirement from aviation in his Bogota home. Suddenly he was arrested by armed agents, jailed, then extradited to the United States, being accused of selling planes to drug traffickers. Carlos had been a commercial pilot and head of security for Columbia’s national aviation authority, yet due in part to a transcription error, he had been mistaken for another man named Carlos on some wiretap recordings. Despite being completely innocent, he spent a year behind bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees before being released. You can read the full story here.

Judges have complained that poor-quality transcriptions can cause a lot of issues within the court system, such as making it difficult for them to make fair decisions. Inaccuracies in a transcript can be used as grounds for an appeal, incurring further legal costs, so it’s clear that accurate transcription plays a crucial role within law firms. Not only this, but lives and livelihoods also hang in the balance, as seed in the example with Carlos Ortega above. When legal transcriptions are not accurate, it can result in criminal and civil convictions, appeals, financial restitution and reputational damage. This is why legal firms need to use a transcription service that is not only thorough and accurate but has the legal knowledge to understand more complex audio recordings and can differentiate between speakers and transcribe them correctly.

Medical

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Precise and accurate medical transcription is a leading priority in healthcare. Any mistakes made during a medical transcription can cost medical practices time, energy and money, as well as put a patient’s health and medical care on the line. Transcription errors can have an impact on such critical things as diagnoses, understanding of demographics, dosage, lab results and operation dates. Small mistakes or omissions really can have a massive impact in the medical world, and making sure your transcriptions are 100% correct could literally be the difference between life and death.

This is no exaggeration. In 2013 a fine of $140 million was charged when a medical facility outsourced their transcriptions of doctors’ orders to a firm in India, who mistakenly wrote ’80’ instead of ‘8’ for an insulin dosage, resulting in the wrongful death of a patient. There is therefore a very real need for medical professionals to ensure that they use the most reliable and accurate transcription services available.

Conclusion

At McGowan Transcriptions we provide high-quality, accurate transcriptions to a wide variety of businesses, including HR and legal firms, medical teams, and more. Our skilled professional team understands how vital accuracy is to you, and your transcription will go through rigorous checks to ensure it’s 100% correct before it’s sent on to you. We’ve been transcribing since 1993, so you can be sure we have the experience, expertise and technology to provide you with the most accurate transcriptions possible for your business. If you would like to know more, please just get in touch with the team today.

Call 0800 158 3747 or email office@mcgowantranscriptions.co.uk.

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March 2024