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Costly Mistakes in Healthcare Interpreting

Some people find the idea of going to the doctor’s as intimidating and uncomfortable. Now imagine you didn’t speak the language to communicate with your healthcare professional. In the US Health care regulations require healthcare providers who receive federal funding to provide interpreters. Having bilingual staff who can speak the language is not enough. Healthcare interpreting has to be provided by professional interpreters. Speaking a language does not make someone an expert in the nuances or an interpreter. Below are two cases to illustrate the need for qualified professionals.

Willie Ramirez

On January 22, 1980, 18-year-old Willie Ramirez ate a fast food hamburger. That evening, he fell down unconscious and his Cuban family thought it was the hamburger that made him sick. He had actually developed a sudden brain hemorrhage. The family tried to explained that he had been food poisoned but chose a word that created confusion for the doctor.

In Spanish “intoxicado” is a word that means there’s something wrong with you because of something you ate or drank. His girlfriend explained the doctors that they had been arguing, which led the doctor to think that he was intoxicated (he had taken an intentional drug overdose because he was upset about the fight). This error in interpreting caused his condition to be misdiagnosed and he was left quadriplegic. The haemorrhage was only discovered after days of improper treatment, and by then it was too late. The hospital, which should have provided a professional interpreter, is liable for a settlement of approximately $71 million dollars to pay for Willie’s care for the rest of his life.

The Tran case

A Vietnamese nine-year-old was asked to interpret for herself until she collapsed as a result of a reaction to one of her prescriptions. When she collapsed, her 16-year-old brother took over and attempted to translate for his Vietnamese-speaking parents. By the time the physician discovered what was going it was too late and the patient had died. The patient’s death was ultimately the result of a misdiagnoses by the emergency room personnel. The parents sued the hospital and reached a settlement so no court precedent was established.

In order to ensure the quality of the service, these have to be provided by a knowledgeable person. Professional medical translation and interpreting services save lives and improve quality of care. When such language services are not available, the risk to patient safety goes up and the risk of a medical malpractice claim increases. At Lingua Translations we only used professional experienced professionals. If you have a need for healthcare interpreters, we are here to help ensure the quality of the service and protect your business liability.

 

 

ERRORES COSTOSOS EN LA INTERPRETACIÓN SANITARIA

Hay quienes encuentran la idea de ir al médico intimidante e incómoda. Ahora imagínese que no habla el idioma para comunicarse con el médico o la enfermera. Las normas del sistema de salud de los EE.UU. requieren que los proveedores de salud que reciben fondos federales provean intérpretes. Tener en plantilla a trabajadores bilingües no es suficiente. La interpretación sanitaria debe ser llevada a cabo por profesionales. Hablar un idioma no hace que alguien sea experto en matices ni lo convierte en intérprete. A continuación, mostramos dos casos para ilustrar la necesidad de profesionales cualificados.

Willie Ramirez

El 22 de enero de 1980, Willie Ramírez de 18 años comió una hamburguesa en un restaurante de comida rápida. Esa tarde cayó inconsciente y su familia cubana pensó que la hamburguesa le había sentado mal. En realidad había desarrollado una hemorragia cerebral. La familia intentó explicar que había sufrido una intoxicación alimentaria y usó la palabra “intoxicado”, lo cual creó confusión en el doctor.

En español “intoxicado” se usa para describir que uno se encuentra mal debido a algo que ha comido o bebido. Su novia explicó a los médicos que habían discutido, lo que les llevo a pensar que estaba intoxicado (había sufrido una sobredosis intencional de drogas o alcohol por la pelea). Intoxicado en inglés se utiliza cuando una persona se encuentra bajo los efectos de las drogas o el alcohol. Este error de interpretación causó que su problema no se diagnosticara correctamente y terminó cuadripléjico. La hemorragia se descubrió después de días de tratamiento erróneo, y para entonces era muy tarde. El hospital, que debería haber proporcionado un intérprete profesional, es responsable de un pago de 71 millones de dólares para pagar el tratamiento de Willie de por vida.

El caso Tran

Una niña vietnamita de 9 años tuvo que interpretar para sí misma hasta que se desmayó a causa de los efectos secundarios de uno de los medicamentos que le habían sido recetados. Cuando se desmayó su hermano de 16 años pasó a intentar traducir para sus padres de habla vietnamita. Cuando el médico descubrió lo que le ocurría era demasiado tarde y la paciente había fallecido. Su muerte se debió al resultado de los diagnósticos inapropiados del personal de urgencias. Los padres demandaron al hospital y llegaron a un acuerdo económico, por lo que no se asentó ninguna jurisprudencia.

Para asegurar la calidad del servicio, éstos tienen que ser proporcionados por una persona con conocimientos específicos. Los servicios de traducción e interpretación médica profesional salvan vidas y mejoran la calidad del tratamiento. Cuando dichos servicios no están disponibles, el riesgo para la seguridad del paciente aumenta junto con el de demanda por negligencia. En Lingua Translations sólo utilizamos profesionales con experiencia. Si necesita un intérprete médico, estamos aquí para ayudarle a asegurar la calidad del servicio y proteger las responsabilidades legales de su negocio.

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