How many medical interpretation errors have you encountered? Many countries have diverse populations, so people speak many languages ​​to varying degrees of proficiency. A major problem for healthcare providers is that they have to deal with patients from different ethnicities in the course of their work. Immigrants need to learn the language when they arrive in a new country. For example, in Vietnam, immigrants must learn and know Vietnamese or must know English.

At many hospitals and clinics across Vietnam, many doctors and health care providers have told several stories of patients coming in for a check-up with a family member or possible friend. communicate with them.

The law currently states that a family member, relative or friend cannot be a translator or interpreter for a patient who does not speak English. However, before this law was enacted, there were several stories of medical interpretation errors that endangered patients' lives or worse, cost patients their lives.

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Why Family Members Or Relatives Shouldn't Be Patient Interpreters Bệnh

In the past, it was normal to see foreign patients accompanied by relatives when medical care was needed. One common reason is that they feel comfortable when a loved one can speak their language. That gives them a sense of security because they are facing something unknown.

First of all, this places a burden on loved ones. He or she may not be fluent in the language. But since their mission is to help patients get the medical care they need, they act as interpreters. They may not be able to accurately identify or describe the disease, or in order to protect the patient, they may change, omit or add words to the description so as not to disclose sensitive health issues.

When you are involved with patients, it can be difficult to remain neutral, impartial, and objective. Relatives acting as interpreters often exhibit a protective bias toward the patient. Because they think they are helping patients by protecting them, that can lead to misdiagnosis.

Bilingual Employees Should Not Be Medical Interpreters

Another scenario that could lead to a misdiagnosis is the use of a bilingual healthcare professional. They may know the language the patient speaks, but they are not trained to be medical interpreters. Medical interpreters are professionals, with specific knowledge of terminology applicable to a particular medical field. It is difficult for a nurse or an assistant to tell their superiors that they may not be fluent in the language or that they do not have a deeper knowledge of the particular medical profession. These are just some of the common scenarios that explain why the new law only uses professional medical interpreters in the healthcare industry.

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Emphasize Reasons to Use Experts to Avoid Medical Interpretation Errors

Accurate interpretation of the patient's medical condition is important for the physician to properly diagnose and treat the patient. No one wants to see their family member mistreated or receive a misdiagnosis.

Section 1557 of the Health Care Act (ACA) has several requirements for health care providers and professionals, such as non-discrimination in the provision of medical care services. and manage health care programs.

Article 1557 provides access to medical care for people with limited English proficiency. This requires medical facilities to provide professional language service assistance, such as providing a qualified interpreter for oral interpretation and a qualified translator for written documents. copy.

The law also firmly states that the use of family members, relatives and friends is no longer permitted, except in emergencies where an interpreter is not immediately available. Likewise, they should not require their bilingual staff to act as interpreters for patients.

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Here's why not use family members as interpreters using the patient's language:

  • They lack medical knowledge because they are not trained as medical interpreters. The qualifications of a medical interpreter include passing a training program, having appropriate experience in a particular medical field, knowledge of the appropriate terminology, and understanding of a wide range of issues. Medical topics beyond the knowledge of the average person.
  • They couldn't stay calm. You know that doctors do not recommend medical treatment for their family members. Here's why this is so. Even if the person is highly qualified to deal with family members, they cannot prevent themselves from being emotionally affected. The need for protection is also there, so it can be difficult to discuss medical information that could be offensive to patients, which could prevent them from correctly interpreting what the doctor is saying or stop explaining it completely. whole. A professional medical interpreter is objective and impartial, so relaying all information, including sensitive information, is part of the job.
  • They may feel uncomfortable discussing personal information. If it's a relative, friend or young child, they may feel it's not right to discuss personal issues or medical information. Furthermore, cultural beliefs can prevent them from talking about personal information.

Typical Cases of Medical Interpretation Errors

Medical interpreters put the patient's welfare and life first, so they must take it seriously. A qualified medical interpreter is required to ensure that the medical provider makes the correct diagnosis and treatment of a patient with limited English proficiency. Besides speaking the language, a professional medical interpreter also understands the patient's culture and customs, which can be instrumental in providing the patient with appropriate care.

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Willie Ramirez

The case of Willie Ramirez is one of the classic examples of medical interpretation errors. An 18-year-old boy was taken to a hospital in Florida. He was in a coma at the time, after collapsing from a severe headache. The interpreter (a family relationship) mistranslated the term intoxicado as drunk. However, the actual translation of the Spanish-Cuban term is having an allergic reaction or being poisoned.

Due to a translation error, Ramirez was treated for a drug overdose. At that time he had an intracranial hemorrhage. Because the medical condition was not properly translated, the doctor's diagnosis was wrong, which left Ramirez quadriplegic. This happened in 1980. The settlement of the lawsuit amounted to about $71 million, assuming that Ramirez could live until 2036, when he would be 74 years old. Bleeding is treatable but doctors find it too late, so the effects of improper treatment can be reversed.

Teresa Tarry

Teresa Tarry is from England. In 2007, she had an unnecessary double mastectomy in Spain. She was new to the area and struggled with Spanish. The double surgery occurred due to a translation error, leading doctors to believe that breast cancer runs in Mrs. Tarry's family. Mistranslated documents included in her medical record showed, according to Ms Tarry's statement, that her mother as well as her sister had breast cancer. She only went to the doctor for a checkup because of a tumor she discovered, which was later found to be benign. In addition to losing both breasts, she lost her job and describes her life as living in hell.

Knee Replacement Surgery

Between 2006 and 2007, 47 failed knee replacement surgeries occurred in Germany. Failed surgeries are due to device package information translation errors. There are two types of knee prostheses that should be used with or without cement. In the source language of the prosthetic package information used for surgery, the femoral component must be non-modular cementitious. The mistranslation in German says that this ingredient has no cement. The translation error resulted in the patient undergoing knee surgery twice.

Sandra George

Sandra George is from Macedonia and has limited English. She visited a doctor in 2015 with a friend who acted as an interpreter. She complained of a vestibular nerve tumor. Because the translator was not qualified, she believed she had malignant cancer. She had a qualified Macedonian interpreter on successful visits, but she firmly believed that the tumor was cancerous. She underwent surgery but the doctor performing the surgery accidentally cut a facial nerve. One side of Mrs. George's face was in pain. That's double the risk because the tumor is benign.

Francisco Torres

Francisco Torres speaks only Spanish. He is said to have had his kidney removed from Riverside Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center in California in 2010. Before the surgery, he received a consent form written in English. He had no right to know the translator or medical interpreter so he did not know that the form indicated a failed nephrectomy. The hospital performed a surgery to remove the working kidney and then also removed the damaged kidney.

Tran Family

A nine-year-old Vietnamese patient explains her condition to her parents. She then collapsed from a reaction to a prescribed medication. Her prescription was not translated into Vietnamese. Her brother, who was 16 at the time, tried to work as a translator for his parents who couldn't speak English. But before he could make the doctors understand what was wrong with his sister, it was too late. They sued the hospital and received $200.000 in damages.

The Lin Family

The patient is a 17-year-old Taiwanese girl residing in California. Her head was accidentally hit by a tennis racket and she developed a brain abscess. Despite her condition, she became an interpreter for her non-English speaking parents in the emergency room. She died of respiratory arrest while communicating her own condition.
The above are just some typical examples of medical interpretation errors. There are many more of these medical problems that continue to occur worldwide but many of them go unreported.

Idichthuat We are here to assist you with all your medical interpreting needs. We provide medical interpretation for large and small medical facilities, clinics and hospitals, both public and private. Furthermore, we work with native-speaking medical translators and interpreters who are experts in this area. Our translators and interpreters work in more than 100 languages. So, for all your medical interpretation and translation needs, you can count on us with peace of mind. Please contact Idichthuat Contact us today for a consultation and quote within the same day!

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