When you go to the doctor or hospital, do you take for granted that you will be able to communicate effectively with medical staff? Many of us do. We assume that we will understand what our doctor is saying to us and, in turn, they will understand what we are telling them. For those citizens whose first language isn’t English, a lack of medical interpreters is directly linked to medical malpractice.
Here is an example: In 2012, a Spanish-speaking man went to a hospital in Annapolis, MD. He was suffering with shortness of breath, abdominal pain and vomiting. He was in the hospital for two days, had blood drawn and received other tests. According to a hospital report, no one took the time to speak with the man in his native language until 90 minutes before he died.
Our country is growing more diverse. People speak different languages, and assuming that everyone understands English in a fluent way is a mistake. Healthcare experts are concerned that hospitals, medical offices and pharmacies are not taking the steps to ensure that people are offered an interpreter should they need one. Instead, family members and friends with little to no medical knowledge are relied upon to act as go-betweens.
Medical interpretation is a real profession. Instead of spending the money that it would take to hire these linguistic experts, medical establishments often rely not only on family and friends, but on bilingual staff members. Using anyone but a professional interpreter is strongly discouraged. In many languages, one word, spoken with the wrong syllabic emphasis or one that sounds similar to another, can easily be mistaken. This, among other issues, can lead to medical error.
The Joint Commission requires medical establishments to provide these services to every patient who needs them. Hospitals are also required to provide written information in a language that is understood by the patient. Knowing these requirements can help you advocate for the healthcare of those you love.
If you have been the victim of medical malpractice in Charleston, call our team of attorneys. We believe that you have a right to be compensated for your injuries. Let us assist you today by offering you a free case evaluation. We will advise you of your options and possible next steps.