Apparently, speaking Spanish in the United States can be hazardous to one’s health. According to a recent study to be published in the journal Pediatrics, Spanish speakers are exposed to an unacceptable number of grave translation errors in the instructions provided with prescription medications. Pharmacists’ computers frequently deliver “Spanglish” translations, which ultimately pose a threat to patients’ health, as they are open to misinterpretation and therefore possible overdose. Overloaded pharmacists who are lacking Spanish-language skills simply do not have the time or ability to review the prescription labels for errors.
The best way that non-English speaking patients can protect themselves from misunderstandings when dealing with medical professionals is to request an interpreter or translator with expertise in the medical field in order to receive instructions and other vital information in their native tongue. In addition, the pharmaceutical industry should push for the hiring of more bilingual pharmacists and the development of more advanced pharmacy prescription software that produces clearer translations when the use of automatic translation is unavoidable.
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