A clear, comprehensible 2-way dialogue between a patient and his doctor is necessary for properly diagnosing and prescription of a remedy. When a 2-way dialogue fails to materialize or never exists, there are much higher likelihoods for emergency room errors and legal liability due to an improper diagnosis. In fact, according to a new research report, inaccurate diagnosis, prescription and similar errors are 200-percent more likely among non-English speaking patients. As a result, healthcare providers are increasingly requesting the assistance of certified legal translators to accompany patients whenever necessary.
Another recently published report from the Annals of Emergency Medicine, made a similar conclusion. The research took place in two pediatric emergency rooms. Of the 57 observations of non-English speaking families treated, 20 received assistance from a professional Los Angeles Translation Services translators, 10 had no translation assistance, and 27 received no translation assistance. Yet, even in the observations were the subjects received the services of a translator, there was still a risk for error. In fact, 12-percent of translation errors such as adding or omitting certain words or phrases may have led to mistakes that could have had a serious impact on the patient’s health. Still those who did not receive the assistance from translators fared much worse and were almost 200-percent more likely to be misunderstood and diagnosed incorrectly. Among all observations, the most serious errors were least likely to occur when a professional translator had received some formal training and had a minimum of 100 or more hours of on the floor experience. Unfortunately, even today, very few training programs for medical translators exist that provide actual real world experience.
There are many obstacles that prevent healthcare facilities from having skilled translators to assist non-English speaking patients. Some of these include prohibitive costs and lack of availability. Currently, federal laws requires that all U.S. hospitals receiving federal funds offer some type of translation assistance that can include in-person assistance or telephone- and video-based assistance.