Did you know that there were 67.3 million people in the United States who spoke a foreign language at home by 2018? And according to the Center for Immigration Studies, who made an analysis from data of the Census Bureau, 38% of those people spoke English ”less than very well”.
Yes, that’s something that needs attention. Because what happens when a hurt person that speaks Tagalog, gets to a hospital and no one understands him?… It may sound really specific and strange, but there are 1.8 million people speaking Tagalog in the U.S.!
So here are 3 main reasons why we think medical and healthcare services should count with an interpreter, or a trusted company that provides them:
1.Being able to provide better quality services: This one is a little obvious, but it’s important to highlight the fact that this is going to make the medical services give more satisfaction and comfort to its clients, which can bring more recognition between competitors. Also, this makes the business more trusted by clients, and trust is the key to create a real engagement with clients.
2.Breaking language barriers and avoiding mistakes: To help you understand this, we will tell you about a famous case that explains the relevance of an interpreter, because in healthcare it’s important to understand the words, but also the context.
On January 22nd, 1980, Willie Ramírez was 18 years old and arrived at the ER of a South Florida hospital in a comatose state after having a big headache, feeling dizzy, and losing and recovering consciousness repeatedly. His family and his girlfriend’s family, who were present at that moment, told the doctors that he was intoxicado because of a hamburger he ate. This word in Spanish, especially in Cuba, means that you ate or drank something that made you feel bad, like an allergic reaction or nausea. They specified that it wasn’t related to drugs or alcohol, because he was an athlete, and he took care of his health. But there was a misunderstanding with the word intoxicado: the doctors understood intoxicated, and thought that it was a drug overdose, so they made him a physical exam for that situation, which ended up in a misdiagnosis of an intracerebellar hemorrhage that kept bleeding for almost two days while he was unconscious at the hospital, and left him quadriplegic. The surgery needed for the real diagnosis was made, but it was too late. And in the lawsuit made by the family, it was known that if the hospital would have called the neurosurgeon earlier, Willie could have walked out of the hospital. (Price-Wise, 2018)
3.The misunderstandings can end up in lawsuits: Not being able to understand a patient properly can lead to misdiagnosis, wrong prescriptions or treatments, malpractice, negligence, or cultural problems, and all of these can become real legal problems that are taken to court. If these cases happen between people speaking the same language, it can definitely happen between people speaking different languages! Also, according to ABC Law Centers (2018): ”Patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) can now sue healthcare providers for failing to provide adequate interpretation/translation service”. For example, the case of Willie Ramírez cost $71 million.
Finally, what we mean is, it’s better to have a trusted company of language interpreters, like us, that can help you avoid mistakes and lawsuits, and let you improve your services, than trying to solve by yourself and your company complicated communications that can cost you lifes.
References and sources:
DuMont-Perez, S. (2016, April 27). 5 Reasons Health Care Providers Need Medical
Interpreters. LanguageLine. Retrieved from: https://blog.languageline.com/5-
Language Barriers and Medical Malpractice. (2018, July 23). Retrieved from
Price-Wise, G. (2008, November 19). Language, Culture And Medical Tragedy: The
Case Of Willie Ramirez. Health Affairs. Retrieved from
Zeigler, K. & Camarota, S. (2019, October 29). 67.3 Million in the United States Spoke a
Foreign Language at Home in 2018. Center for Inmigration Studies. Retrieved from