3 Causes of Errors in Medical Interpretation

As far as  medical  interpretation is concerned, one may assume it’s just hearing and interpreting a word into another language that is required, no, the  medical  field is too technical when it comes to providing interpretation services for doctors and patients because it’s all about dealing with lives and the health of individuals. There is too much care needed when interpreting  medical  jargons, terminologies into a target language.

The Major Causes of  Medical  Errors

Let’s see and discuss the major causes of  medical  errors during the interpretations by the  medical  interpreters.

Cultural beliefs and tradition; most cultures are too complicated which impacts  medical  service delivery in such communities, so to deliver  medical  services in such a community you must ensure you get  medical  translators and interpreters who can abide by the cultural beliefs and rules in that community because they will be knowing how to deal with their cultural beliefs. Some culture and beliefs do not allow females to conduct speeches in public; when operating a  medical  clinic in a particular community, you must get to know how their cultural beliefs and norm are such that it becomes easier to provide interpreting services, failure to do that you may make mistakes that may end up causing  medical  errors in the  medical  interpretation.

Using family members as translators and interpreters, this is also too dangerous, due to fear of paying for professional  medical  interpreters or translators,  medical  services providers may resort to using the patient’s family members or the patient’s caretakers who may be fluent in English to provide  medical  interpretation, as we all know that being fluent in English is not enough for somebody to be a  medical  translator of interpreter, because of the technicality of  medical  terminologies, a caretaker can’t accurately interpret  medical  terminologies due to lack of knowledge about it, let’s assume you have no knowledge in the  medical  field, and you are given to interpret, the doctor mentions a statement that you’ve never heard of in life, can you manage to understand that statement and interpret into a layman language?

Use of clinicians who have the basic foreign language skills to communicate with patients and doctors instead of qualified  medical  interpreters,  medical  services providers might resort to use of clinician who may have a little knowledge in a particular language understood by the patient.  Medical  interpretations need fluent native speaking  medical  interpreters and translators of the respective language so as to be accurate, but because a clinician who is a Japanese speaker knows some little French is given to act as an interpreter between the doctor and the French-speaking patient, there is no way that interpretation will be free from misinterpretation of some words.

Areas where  medical  errors may occur

 Medical  errors are always common in  medical  areas like;

• Admission forms

• Patient discharge reports

 Medical  reconciliation

• Emergency department visits and surgical care

Possible ways to avoid  medical  errors in  medical  interpretation

To avoid  medical  errors,  medical  service providers should focus on strengthening professional  medical  interpretation services, doctors and patients should be able to communicate and understand each other, they should also provide already translated materials in several foreign languages for the targeted users, cultural awareness and advocacy, improving  medical  staff training and etc.

The use of the patient’s specific identity, this will help to ensure that the  medical  interpreter is given the right  medical  information for the respective patient for interpretation. If any mistake happens that different information about the  medical  prescriptions is interpreted for a different patient,  medical  errors have to occur; hence the  medical  history of the patient bearing the name of the patient, admission date, is necessary since it includes the medicine prescribed for the patient.

Avoiding  medical  errors in the interpretation process is partly the role of the patient, a patient is supposed to present all the previous  medical  reports, including all the drugs that were used, this can help the doctor to know what next step to opted if a particular medicine didn’t work, otherwise the doctor may give back the same medication prescription which during the process of interpretation, processed in exact format and meaning. In addition to that a patient should also be careful and observant to know which drugs can problems to his/her health. This basically letting the informed about the medicines that the patient is allergic to because, during the interpretation process, the interpreter’s work is to speak what the doctor mentions.

 Medical  errors can be avoided if the doctor’s prescriptions to the patient can clearly be understood by the interpreter, hence the interpreter should be sharp, attentive and a good listener when the doctor is talking to the patient, this can make the interpretation accurate and successful with any minor error that may cause problems to the patient’s life.

Looking for a professional  medical  interpreting agency composed of all sorts of  medical  interpreters from different backgrounds, cultures, and languages is a better solution