We’ve reported before on the dangers of cutting back on interpreters in both courtrooms and hospitals and now it looks like there is some data to back up our logic. A recent study out of the University of Texas says that mistakes are twice as likely to be made when there is no professional interpreter present. Of errors made about twenty percent of them can have potential health risks to patients.
Two things jumped out from the Reuters article on it. One was that “translator” and “interpreter” was used pretty much interchangeably. Check out last week’s post on that confusion. And two, that the researchers said that an “ad hoc” interpreter, like a friend or family member, can be just as risky as having no interpreter. Which gives credence to the idea that we’ve argued before: that being bilingual does not make you a proper interpreter.
The main issue still to be resolved here is who should pay for interpreter costs, as we saw in the UK, people are reluctant to take on these costs. This reluctance may result from the pervasive idea that interpreters and translators are a great way to cut costs, which I think is caused by a lack of understanding of what exactly linguists do.
Check out the article here: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/17/us-medical-er-idUSBRE83G15S20120417