As it turns out, most of the interpreting that takes place in our healthcare system, is done either by a family member or doctors with limited ability in the needed language. In a study done by the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, it was revealed that in 35 malpractice cases that led to death or irreparable harm, 32 of the cases involved health care providers who did not use competent translators.
What if the doctor or pharmacist had told someone take the wrong amount of medicine? What if he or she translated the closest meaning to what they thought was being said on the medicine label, patient information leaflets and packaging, and this resulted in something horrible for the patient? Our bodies don’t operate on “what ifs” and neither should our health care. Lives are diminished when there isn’t adequate access to health care that is also culturally appropriate.
In the medical world, this can mean only one thing — having access to a professional translator can mean the difference between life and death. It is important that we ensure that there are adequate services available to the low-income communities and the minority who speak little to no English. As our society becomes increasingly multicultural, cultural awareness and sensitivity is paramount both in the internal and external communications of pharmaceutical companies.