Essay on Errors

1 Feb

I’ve been thinking about errors a lot lately.   I work in a hospital, very closely with a group of schedulers who set up appointments and check insurance for a whole group of providers.   Occasionally they make errors.   What I find interesting is how the providers and managers react to those errors.

What I notice is that there’s three kinds of errors.   Errors in ignorance, where someone does something wrong because they don’t know how to do it right, errors in judgement, where someone makes a decision based on a specific situation that could be better, and errors of transference, where someone performs the right actions in the wrong context.   Transference errors are by and far the most common.

The solutions to these errors are pretty simple (in concept anyway).  Ignorance requires education, judgement requires coaching, and transference requires quality control.   The problem comes when the powers that be apply the wrong solution to an error–which just creates frustration for everyone.  If someone makes questionable judgments, you cannot send them to a bunch of classes and expect them to get better–what they need is to know the consequences of these judgments so they can get a better view of how their actions effect everybody.  If someone is doing something wrong because they don’t know how to do it properly, all the talk about consequences won’t do a bit of good.   If someone inadvertently altered some information when transferring it from one source to another (like a list of numbers), it’s not because they don’t know how to do it  properly, and it’s not because they’re using their judgement at all, all that means is that they need someone to double-check that information to make sure it’s correct.


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