As many people already know, language barriers have long been an issue in many industries, and with the increase of various language speaking citizens in the US, this problem is felt even more strongly within the healthcare field. While most industries have particular target markets that they cater to, the healthcare industry caters to practically everyone. More than 46 million people in the United States do not speak English as their primary language, yet everyone needs medical care at one point or another. This language-gap can cause serious issues with miscommunication between the doctor and the patient, which can result in a lack of proper treatment and can even lead to potentially fatal medical-related errors.
Despite this dramatic issue, currently most health care organizations can only provide limited interpreting services, or even no services at all, relying solely on the patient’s family members, friends or non-fluent bilingual staff members to help communicate with the patient. Even when there are people available to help as much as they can, there are no guarantees they are fluent enough to translate the medical jargon accurately.
So why aren’t interpreting services more prevalent? Many healthcare facilities and hospitals do not want to shoulder the financial burden of keeping language interpreters on hand. Interpreting services do not come cheap, and since there is no way of knowing what native-language patient will be arriving and when, there would have to be multiple language interpreters standing by at all times. This, of course, would result in a massive expenditure that may or may not even be utilized.
For these reasons, many doctors and healthcare facilities are looking toward more cost-effective and efficient solutions. Translation Cloud, a long-standing company in the translation services field, has met this need head on (figuratively and literally) by offering face-to-face interpreting solutions via live-streaming video remote interpretation (VRI). Through Translation Cloud’s services, healthcare facilities will be set up with custom iPads that come installed with an easy to use app. When doctors are in need of an interpreter, they simply tap on Translation Cloud’s app, choose which language they need, and are connected directly to a professional interpreter right on the iPad screen.
“We wanted to offer healthcare providers interpreting services that were all inclusive and easy to use right off the bat. That’s why we decided on VRI utilizing the iPad platform as a base. This way, doctors can easily carry the device around from room to room, and have immediate interpreting services available should they need it,” says Alex Buran, CEO of Translation Cloud. “Doctors have hard enough jobs as it is, they shouldn’t have to worry about language barriers and miscommunications.”
Unlike other industries where a mistranslation might lead to a relatively small misunderstanding, or at the worst, a small financial cost to re-print the documents, healthcare mistranslations are a major cause for concern to both patients and doctors, and could lead to serious medical issues for the patient and medical malpractice lawsuits for the hospitals.
For example, consider the case of Willie Ramirez. On January 22nd, 1980, 18-year old Willie Ramirez was rushed to the hospital after experiencing intense pain in his head, and falling in and out of consciousness. By the time he got to the hospital, he was already in a comatose state and the doctors turned to his family to find out what had happened. Willie’s family spoke very little English, and they assumed his issue was because of something he ate, as the symptoms came on suddenly after eating a meal at Wendy’s. They used the Spanish word “intoxicado”, which in Cuba means there’s something wrong because of something you ate or drank, and has no relation to the English word “intoxicated”, which the doctor’s took as a drug or alcohol overdose.
They treated him accordingly, and transferred Willie to the ICU to recover. Little did the doctor’s know, Willie’s problem was much more severe, as he was actually suffering from a misdiagnosed intracerebellar hemorrhage that continued to bleed for more than two days as he lay unconscious in the ICU. Had the misunderstanding not taken place and the neurosurgeon had been called, Willie could have walked out of the hospital completely recovered. However, since no neuro consult was ordered for two days while he lay unconscious in the ICU, significant damage continued to occur. Only after an attendee noticed symptoms of a neurological disorder was a CAT scan ordered, the hemorrhage diagnosed and a surgery performed. As a result, Willie ended up quadriplegic when he finally awoke.
Had an interpreter been present, the family could have communicated much more clearly with the doctors that Willie had not been drinking or taking drugs (he was actually vehemently opposed to both), and that the cause for his state must have been due to a much larger and more serious medical condition. As a result of the misunderstanding and traumatic results that followed, the hospital was sued and Willie was awarded $71 million. There are no winners in this situation nor many others like it that happen all the time due to misinterpretation.
That is why translation companies with proven track-records like Translation Cloud are stepping up to the plate. “We take what we do very seriously, and that is why all of our interpreters not only sign strict confidentiality agreements, but we also only utilize interpreters with pre-screened medical backgrounds to ensure the highest quality translations for this field,” Alex went on to state. “We know what’s at stake and we put our reputations on the line, so rest assured we only use the best qualified translators in the field.”
With over ten years of experience in the translation industry, Alex and Translation Cloud are eager to take on the important and much needed task of healthcare interpretation. As more and more facilities adopt this practice, Translation Cloud aims to be at the forefront of the industry.
To find out more about Translation Cloud’s VRI services, please click here.