Top 15 Causes Of Proofreading Errors - Part 2

Written by Be4ward on 30/09/2021

Top 15 Causes Of Proofreading Errors - Part 2

The top 15 reasons why pharmaceutical labelling and artwork proofreading fails to identify packaging labelling and artwork errors.

Proofreading is a critical quality control step in the process of ensuring that the packaging labelling and artwork of finished pharmaceutical product is correct. Mistakes in this artwork can put patient safety at risk. Therefore, ensuring that there are adequate
processes, people, facilities and tools in place to perform high quality proofreading activities is essential to patient safety. This blog series identifies a number of errors which are typically seen in the design and execution of proofreading capabilities which should
be avoided to ensure a quality proofreading result. Whilst this blog is written specifically with packaging labelling and artwork proofreading in mind, many if not all the points hold true for proofreading activity of any documentation or design. In Part 1 we looked at the first 3 causes of proofreading errors. Here in part 2 we study 3 further causes.

Cause 4 – Not Checking For Inadvertent Changes

The nature of the artwork process means that there are many occasions where only a small part of the artwork needs to be updated to affect the desired change. This may be because the overall change in question is only minor, or it may be because a small change needs to be made during a correction cycle within a more significant overall change.

It is very tempting in these situations for proofreading activity to only check that the elements which were intended to have been changed/added are correct. However, this approach can lead to a significant number of errors going undetected that were caused by artwork operators or tools inadvertently changing another part of the artwork by mistake.

Therefore, we would recommend that, whenever a change is made to an artwork, no matter how small it is intended to be, that the complete artwork is then proofread. In this way, any unintentional changes to the artwork will be picked up.

Cause 5 - Not Checking Multiple Instances of the Same Information

Packaging artwork often contains multiple instances of the same information. For example, the product name and strength will often appear on multiple faces of a carton, or will be stated many times within a leaflet.

Many recalls have occurred because one or more instances of this information were correct, but others were not. For example, it is easy to imagine how this sort of mistake can be made by an individual who verifies one instance of the information is correct and then assumes the other instances are the same.

Therefore, we would recommend that proofreading methods explicitly require all instances of the same information to verify as correct whilst proofreading activity is being performed. Furthermore, we would also recommend that critical information such as product name and strength are checked across all artworks of the same finished product to ensure that these are also the same.

Cause 6 - Not using techniques that “disable” the human mind’s ability to auto-correct

The human brain is excellent at filling in gaps in information and correcting mistakes in information so that it can see meaning very quickly. As an example, try to read the following:

Cna yuo raed tihs? 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghi t pclae. The rset can be a
taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Many people have little difficulty reading this example; however it does have to be said that some people will find the text unintelligible. Indeed, on first reading, some readers will not notice any issues at all with many of the words. If you look closely at the text, you will see that the middle letters in all the words are actually scrambled, with only the first and the last letters of each word being in the correct place. This has profound implications on proofreading, particularly when comparing text. We effectively see what we want to see.

For these reasons, people doing manual proofreading activity need to be taught to compare information in a way that attempts to stop the human mind making these subconscious corrections.

Furthermore, it may be beneficial to select proofreaders who are less susceptible to the sub-conscious correcting process.

In our next blog we will look at three further causes of proofreading errors. In the meantime, if you have any questions, thoughts or feedback to share with us or indeed if we can help you with your proofreading matters, please get in touch on [email protected]

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