Suggestions on overcoming data entry errors in laboratories

Rechecking data entries before submission

Rechecking data entries before submission

A laboratory earns its recognition and repute over the years through accurate and timely delivery of analysis reports. Undoubtedly trained and skilled manpower and availability of advanced testing facilities make significant contributions towards achievement of such cherished goals. However, all the laurels earned through sustained efforts can be brought to a naught if unnoticed mistakes are made through wrong data entries. Such entries, though not intentional, can bring disrepute and can lead to disputes and litigations which can seriously hamper the laboratory’s business.

Importance of Data

All employees must be indoctrinated on importance of authentic data right from the day they start working in laboratories. They should be made to realize the significance of entering values correctly each and every time otherwise all their dedication can go in vain. It is important for them to realize about untold damage that can result from entering wrong values. Such initiatives will help develop a sense of responsibility at all operational levels.

Types of data entry errors

Data entry involves two types of basic errors:

Transcription errors are encountered when words and sentences are entered through fast typing. These result from hitting wrong keys, incorrect spellings, leaving out important details or repeat typing.

Transposition errors are even more common than transcription errors. These occur when numerical entries are being entered carelessly in quick succession. For example, instead of entering 536 through oversight 563 is entered. Such errors can be avoided through exercise of care and verification of entered values.

Suggestions on avoiding data entry errors

Speed at cost of accuracy?

Speed of data entry helps achieve set targets but at same time there should be no compromise on accuracy. Remember the advantages gained through faster speeds can get nullified if accuracy gets overlooked. The benefits of speed can still be realized if additional data entry staff is hired for equitable distribution of workload.

Take work breaks

It is important to take breaks. This is even more relevant for data entry operations as the nature of task can get monotonous over extended periods. Data entry operators should be allowed short breaks after every couple of hours or so. It helps if they leave their work stations and refresh themselves rather than remain seated in same position. Additionally a data entry operator should be provided adequate work place comfort in terms of lighting, ergonomically designed chair and adjustable height of work table to make keyboard and screen positioning comfortable.

Adoption of friendly softwares

Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) are two examples which have made significant impact in data entry operations. Automatic reading and extraction of relevant details saves valuable time and reduces errors encountered in making manual entries.

Importance of Reviews

Review and double checking of data entries is worth the time and effort. Review should be preferably carried out by different set of trained personnel as the same person can overlook a mistake even after several reviews.

In summary it can be said that making correct data entries is a critical task for any laboratory. It would not be out of place to recommend hiring of a dedicated team for the task. This will help sustain the high standards and reputation earned by a laboratory over time.

About Dr. Deepak Bhanot

Dr Deepak Bhanot is a seasoned professional having nearly 30 years expertise beginning from sales and product support of analytical instruments. After completing his graduation and post graduation from Delhi University and IIT Delhi he went on to Loughborough University of Technology, UK for doctorate research in analytical chemistry. His mission is to develop training programs on analytical techniques and share his experiences with broad spectrum of users ranging from professionals engaged in analytical development and research as well as young enthusiasts fresh from academics who wish to embark upon a career in analytical industry.

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