literary translation

Poor Medical Translation Can Potentially Be Life Threatening:

Trying to understand medical documents can be confusing and stressful, it’s hard for people to fully grasp the information given to them without an in depth explanation. Worry, lack of knowledge and being overwhelmed are aspects often faced when given medical information or instructions. It’s a tough situation for people who speak English, but even tougher and potentially dangerous for the millions of people in America who don’t speak or understand English. When medical translation is done incorrectly, it puts patients at risk to receive poor medical care, improper treatment and can possibly put lives in jeopardy. It’s vital for patients to understand the information being conveyed to them, this is why providing professionally translated medical documentation to your patients is not an option. Medical translation should be accurate and appropriately convey the intended message through effective communication. Word omissions, additions and substitutions in medical translation all allow room for mistranslations and misunderstandings to take place.

Not Providing Professional Medical Translation Can Lead to the Following:

  • Misinforming and misleading patients
  • Delayed patient treatment
  • Inappropriate treatment of patients
  • Complications or possibly death
  • Patients oftentimes sign consent forms without proper understanding of medical treatment
  • Medical providers can be sued for malpractice

Negative Outcomes Caused by Poor Medical Translation:

1.) A British woman named Teresa Tarry lost both of her breast to a completely unnessaccary double mastectomy after moving to Spain and finding a golf ball sized lump in her breast. She said she was led to believe the lump was malignant and the operation was vital to her survival. Evidently due to a mistranslation in her medical history records the doctors believed her mother and sister both suffered from breast cancer so they thought it best to perform a double mastectomy. Weeks later she found out the lump was in fact not cancerous. “I have never gone through such a torrid time,” Teresa told MailOnline. “I came to Spain to start a new life for me and my sons. In reality it has been an eight year living hell.” Tarry is now suing the hospital for €600,000 in compensation for her loss and emotional trauma.  

2.) California’s Riverside Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center removed the wrong kidney from Spanish speaking patient Francisco Torres in 2010. Torres, with the encouragement and direction of the hospital staff signed a consent form indicating which kidney was diseased and needed to be removed. Torres being a native Spanish speaker was never provided with a copy of the consent form in Spanish and was left to sign an English copy in which he had no idea indicated the hospital planned to remove the wrong kidney. After catching the mistake, the hospital removed Torres’s diseased kidney, as well, leaving him with no kidneys. “The big question we have is how can that happen? Why isn’t somebody saying, ‘Gee, today it’s right, and for the past two weeks it’s been left,'” says Shirley Watkins, Torres’ attorney. Watkins also stated, “So he’s left without a kidney, and for many people on lifelong dialysis, there’s no question it’s going to have some effect on the quality of his life and life expectancy,” Watkins filed this lawsuit on Torres’ behalf and they are seeking damages in the seven figure range.

Providing Professional Medical Translation Services Reduces the Risk of Poor Patient Care:

Language barriers have the ability to impede patient provider communication, which is of the utmost importance when providing healthcare services to non English speaking patients. Medical translation is vital in modern American communities, which are rapidly growing more linguistically diverse each day. It has become extremely common for medical staff to encounter language barriers on a daily basis. It’s important to have documentation such as consent forms, intake and informational forms, documents explaining surgical procedures, medication instructions as well as pre-op and post-op information, translated and kept on file in the language in which your facility encounters the most. Providing optimal patient care for all patients is the goal and medical translation services can help to ensure all patients are provided with medical documents and information in a language they understand. In medical settings it’s vital a patient be aware of what is going on in order for them to make decisions regarding their healthcare. Medical translation services aid in allowing patients dealing with language barriers the ability to understand information pertaining to them and promotes proper communication between medical staff and patients.

Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise with 20 years of language service experience. A global network of highly skilled interpreters and translators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for on-site, telephonic and video remote interpretation services. Our linguists are available in over 350 languages and dialects, and our network includes certified interpreters and translators. Our work is guaranteed with a $1 Million Errors & Omissions policy, so that you can be confident that your project will be completed with the highest level of quality and professionalism within the field. For more information contact us at 1-877-567-8449 or visit our website at

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