If a medical diagnosis is incorrectly translated, it can be the difference between a life saved and a life lost. There are different stages of the treatment process where incorrect translations could occur endangering the life of the patient and also putting the doctor at risk of getting into a medical malpractice lawsuit. There is documented evidence of cases where incompetent medical document translations led to severe complications of problems which could have been easily treated and, at times, the cases have been fatal.
Poor translations and adverse long-term effects
Most of the times when translation problems occur, it is in places where languages like Spanish are widely spoken, and the patient or translator is unable to decipher what is being said. For instance, there was a case that caught the attention of many when a translator took the Spanish word ‘intoxicado’ to mean intoxicated, while the family member meant that their loved one was having some form of food poisoning. Because the patient, Willie Ramirez, had been bleeding from the brain, by the time the actual problem was discovered, the patient had to lose all his four legs. This is a situation which could have been easily prevented, had the translator used a reliable tool for medical translations online to get the meaning of the word as communicated by the family.
Loss of unborn babies
Another case of a medical translation gone awry was a Spanish woman, who went for a pregnancy test at a local hospital. Maria Guevara’s English competence was really limited, and so when the doctors explained the complications of her pregnancy, she thought she was being asked if she wanted to keep the child and nodded in agreement. The doctor then prescribed an abortion pill and an unborn child was lost in the process.
These are just a few scenarios showing how serious the consequences of low-quality medical translations can be. Other possible negative effects of poor or incompetent medical translations include:
- Inappropriate treatment and complications leading to death from poor translations
- Delayed treatment because a patient was not properly diagnosed
- Legal problems because patients will later claim that they were not made to understand the procedure completely before they signed their consent.
- Misleading information going out to the public, especially when medical document translations such as pamphlets are given to patients and their families.
- Inability to provide the necessary health services because of the language barrier between the healthcare service provider and the patient.
How to resolve the problem
The first and most important step which can be taken to reduce the possibility of an inaccurate translation is that healthcare providers should have professionals hired for the job. These should be people who understand both the language, context, nuances and colloquialisms, or trusted medical translations online sites. Secondly, the relatives of the patients should never be used as translators because, in most cases, they are the ones that complicate the entire translation process. Finally, medical communities in areas where multilingual communities live should always have certified translation services at the top of their priorities. There should be no excuse for not getting professionals translators to handle the work. At the end, its a matter of life and death and no chances should be taken when it comes to understanding the medical complexities and your options, hence it is on the medical community as well to make sure the patient understands the medical situation well and good before being having to take a decision.