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This is a short piece from earlier in February that everyone should read. Translation for healthcare is a lot more than just finding the correct technical phrases to convey medical information. Maladies exist differently in different cultural contexts.
"People in Cambodia experience what we Americans call depression. But there's no direct translation for the word "depression" in the Cambodian Khmer language. Instead, people may say thelea tdeuk ceut, which literally means "the water in my heart has fallen.”
Translation of language needs to be sensitive to culture. Health care providers and medical interpreters need to be receptive to different patients’ ways of articulating and experiencing their illness.
"In summary, the study found that fewer than 1 in 20 online complaints cite diagnosis, treatments and outcomes in healthcare as unsatisfactory, whereas more than 19 of 20 unhappy patients said inadequate communications and disorganized operations drove them to post harsh reviews." (Becker's Hospital Review)
In the article, Influx of West Africans in the Bronx Spurs Demand for Interpreters Liz Robbins not only emphasizes the scope of the language barrier for this growing population in the healthcare realm but also in navigating and accessing other processes from immigration paperwork to housing applications, education services, etc.
A woman called 911 after her husband was attacked with a machete and it took four minutes to connect her to a Spanish-English interpreter over the phone.
We've sourced a few different articles all discussing mistranslations in different spheres: commercial advertising, political and diplomatic communications, healthcare communication, etc. Some of these mistranslations are comical and lighthearted, but some are far less trivial.
This study published in Pediatrics examined the accuracy of the Spanish translations for medicine labels for a group of 286 participating pharmacies in the Bronx, NY.
Learning Spanish for your clinical practice isn't only beneficial to your patients! Watch this 5 minute Ted Ed video about how knowing more than one language keeps your brain healthy.
"He has been holding presentations in the Greek communities of the south and southwest suburbs to increase awareness of the need for preventive care – getting regular mammograms, colonoscopies, pap smears and tests for diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoporosis – a type of care he said many Greek and other cultures dismiss unless they hear it from a doctor from the same background."
This article is a few months old, but should not be forgotten as its message is of consequence. The number of Latino Doctors is not keeping pace with the population.
One of the "Perspectives" pieces published in the April 2015 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine highlights the importance of working to remove language barriers. The piece reviews a patient who was on duplicative medication because of a miscommunication due to a language barrier. Had this mistake not been caught, the patient would have received a permanent pacemaker when unnecessary.