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Translation trouble may result in failure to diagnose

Medical malpractice lawsuits in Rhode Island can be due to a delayed diagnosis, a failure to diagnose the problem and even a misdiagnosis. When a patient does not receive adequate care, or when they are being treated for an ailment that they do not have, thus neglecting the real sickness, the consequences can be devastating and even life threatening.

Clear communication between a Providence doctor and patient are essential in order to identify and treat medical issues that may arise. A physician is obligated to provide reasonable effort and care in diagnosing the cause of a problem, but may be unable to act competently when they cannot properly assess the problem due to language barriers.

A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, discovered that many non-English speaking patients are not even given the option to speak with their doctor through the aid of a professional translator.  It seems that doctors are relying on family members, who often struggle with translating what the patient is telling them. As such, many doctors may be receiving inaccurate information.  While even the most skillful doctors can commit errors in diagnosis and treatment, their rates of inaccuracy may dramatically increase when they cannot fully and directly discuss symptoms with a patient.

Both misdiagnosis and failure to detect a condition can lead to undue anxiety for a patient, the acceleration of an untreated disease and often even additional medical expenses due to unnecessary treatment. If you believe that you or a family member has received inadequate medical treatment, you may benefit from speaking with a medical malpractice attorney. 

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Many pediatricians still not using interpreters,” Kathryn Doyle, July 10, 2013

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