Top 15 Causes of Proofreading Errors - part 4

Written by Be4ward on 21/01/2022

Top 15 Causes of Proofreading Errors - part 4

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 parts 1 - 3, we looked at the first 9 causes of proofreading errors. Here in part 4 we study 3 further causes.

Cause 10 – Not ensuring that people have the right skills and temperament

If we were to list some of the attributes of someone ideally suited to the proofreading task it might look something like this:

• High process compliance focus.

• Strong attention to detail.

• High self discipline.

• A completer finisher.

• Ability to concentrate on a task for long periods.

• Happy working alone for long periods.

• Low natural tendency to subconsciously correct errors in text.

• Ability to resist management pressure to rush work.

Without these attributes, it is highly unlikely that an individual is going to be able to do a good job of proofreading if they are called upon to do so for a significant proportion of their time. Some would argue that, even if they only perform proofreading for small periods of their time, unless they have most of these attributes, they will still do a poor proofreading job.

Firstly, we would recommend selecting individuals who meet a profile suitable for proofreading if they are to be asked to perform proofreading duties for a significant part of their jobs.

Secondly, we would recommend that organisations look closely at the roles which are required to perform proofreading in the artwork process and consider if the typical skill set of individuals in these roles lends itself to effective proofreading. If not, then consideration should be given to changing the process to put critical proofreading activity in the hands of those with the appropriate skills.

Cause 11 – Not ensuring people have the right environment to work in

Proofreading requires concentration on often large documents for extended periods of time. A small desk and laptop in a busy, noisy open plan office is hardly conducive to performing this task well.

In all cases we would recommend that the office environment in which proofreading is performed has the following features:

• Ergonomic desk and seating design to ensure comfort for long periods of sitting still.

• Comfortable temperature for sitting still for long periods.

• Lighting suitable for long periods of concentration on documents containing small text.

• Quiet area, free from audio and visual distractions.

• Adequate clear desk space to lay out large documents and checklists.

If proofreading is to be done on-screen, then we would also recommend:

• Large high quality screens.

• Multiple screens to allow easy comparison of multiple documents.

Cause 12 – Not ensuring that people have quality time to do their work

As anyone involved in Quality will tell you that not providing adequate quality time to perform tasks is a sure way to introduce errors and non-compliance. Proofreading is no exception to this rule and seems to suffer particularly badly due to the nature of artwork changes and the position of proofreading in the artwork process.

Firstly, for many organisations, the artwork process is often poorly understood or appreciated. This often leads an organisation to systematically expect the tasks involved in the process to be performed in less time than can be reasonably expected.

Secondly, the nature of artwork changes means that they are often on the critical path of getting product out of the factory. This further increases the time pressures.

Thirdly, proofreading occurs towards the end of the process, at which point, any time pressures are magnified as things are often already running late.

It is easy for management to forget that, even if only small changes are being made, there is no essential difference to the time it takes to perform proofreading tasks.

Therefore, we would recommend that effort is put in to a number of things to help this situation:

• Explaining to the organisation the requirements of proofreading.

• Setting standard times for proofreading activity.

• Monitoring performance and taking corrective action where issues occur.

• Monitoring workload on proofreaders to ensure they have adequate capacity on an ongoing basis.

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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