Archive for July, 2013

Lost in Translation: A Prescription for Disaster

July 22, 2013


Picture Source: AARP

Every person who reads this likely speaks English, and speaks it well. However California is home to 100 languages including 6 million who have limited English proficiency, have difficulty negotiating everyday life.

“Take Ms. Z, The directions on the bottle of blood-sugar pills read: Take once a day But to Ms. Z who speaks Spanish she interprets the prescription as Take 11 a day”

She takes eleven pills and is rushed to the hospital with severely low blood sugar. Medical misadventures like these occur far too often in California.
In a report published by the California Senate it is estimated that more than 150,000 preventable medication errors occur every year costing California 17 billion dollars in health care costs. The report found that labeling was the main reason for medication errors in the out-patient setting. For those taking multiple medications the risk of medication error is even greater. To take medications safely, patients need to understand the prescription label: the patient name, the name of the drug, and the dosage.
Providing instructions on Prescription Labels in other Languages is Easy to Do

The California Board of Pharmacy will translate and post directions for medication use into the most common non-English languages for down-load and use by pharmacies.

California must make it a requirement that prescription labels be made available in non-English for patients with limited English-proficiency. Click here to support that prescription labels be translated into languages other than English. All Californians have the right to  understand their prescription medication labels