According to a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, having professional translators on staff may limit miscommunications between patients and medical staff in the ER. The study found that mistakes with “clinical consequences” were twice as likely to occur if the hospital ER no interpreters or amateur interpreters to translate for the non-English speaking patient.
The study, which was conducted with primarily Spanish speaking families, found that 12 percent of translation errors could have been a potential risk to a child but when the translator was a family member or a non-professional translator the potentially risky errors went up to 22 percent. Interpreters with at least 100 hours of training were found to have the lowest error rate with only two percent of errors being potentially harmful to a child.
In one example of an error, the amateur translator told the ER medical staff that the child patient was not on any medications and was not allergic to any medications when in fact he never ever asked the mother of the child whether this was true.