Spanish-speaking patients often experience inferior medical care

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A recent study revealed that emergency room errors are twice as likely to occur when the patient doesn’t speak English. Researchers discovered that the heightened medical-error rate could easily be lowered by staffing ERs with interpreter-translators.

The 25 million U.S. residents who aren’t proficient English speakers face an unacceptable chance of being a medical malpractice victim because of the language barrier. While it’s untenable for Ohio ERs to staff an arsenal of translators for every imaginable language, the value of having a Spanish-speaking interpreter would pay dividends in patient safety.

Hispanic or Latino patients with a limited English vocabulary often have great difficulty in articulating their symptoms – something that’s often difficult even when the doctor and patient share speak the same language. That’s why the medical study’s researchers recommend that emergency rooms use a professional translator – high school Spanish lessons do not count!

In rural Ohio communities it’s probably unfeasible for hospitals to staff a translator; however, there are 24-hour services that offer professional translators via phone. It’s something for every sizable hospital to consider, as it can avoid potentially fatal ER errors such as a medication overdose.

If someone you love has been seriously harmed because of an emergency room error, contact a skilled Ohio medical malpractice to discuss your legal options.

Source: MSNBC Health, “Interpreters in ER may limit medical errors: study,” April 17, 2012

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