When lives are at stake, doctors cannot afford to be given a poor translation when attempting to understand what is going on with his or her patient and family members cannot misinterpret the instructions given to them. The quality of a patient’s life and his or her prognosis can be greatly diminished simply because there was a language barrier and this is why there needs to be a greater investment in interpreters by hospitals. Rather than hire these individuals, many healthcare providers have opted for less expensive and impersonal options that have proven to be highly ineffective and jeopardized the health of many.
Minor Misinterpretations Can Result in Major Medical Errors
One stark example of the devastation that can result from poor translation in a hospital setting comes from a baseball play who was severely injured when a medical interpreter mistranslated a single word used by his family to describe his condition. In the Spanish language, “intoxicado” means digestive irritation, but it was translated to mean “intoxicated” by the interpreter working with Willie Ramirez in 1980.