Translators in the ER May Decrease Medical Errors

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A new study suggests that providing professional translators for patients who do not speak English and are admitted into the emergency room may help limit the risk of any possible miscommunications.

The study, which was conducted at two pediatric emergency rooms and published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, focused on 57 families who primarily spoke Spanish. A professional translator helped 20 of the families, while 10 had no translator help and 27 had assistance from a non-professional translator.

Researchers found that the likelihood of doctors making mistakes that could have “clinical consequences,” such as giving an improper dose of medication, doubled among non-english-speaking patients if there was either no interpreter or an inexperienced one present.

In this study, two percent of the translation mix-ups that were documented had the potential to harm the patient.

“These findings suggest that requiring at least 100 hours of training for interpreters might have a major impact on reducing interpreter errors and their consequences in health care, while improving quality and patient safety,” the study noted.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by medical error, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Sokolove Law for a free legal consultation.