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Legal aspects of medical translations
Thread poster: Iftekhar Hassan
Iftekhar Hassan
United States
Local time: 22:30
English to Bengali
+ ...
Sep 11, 2003

We must remember, when a doctor provides direction of a certain medical procedures to a foreign speaking patient. He is obligated under the law (in the U.S.A. and in some European country and I do not know the legal liability of a health care provider on this subject in India ) that the patient "FULLY" understand the direction (s).

Legal catch 66 is here:

Due to any mishap, accident in any medical cases (regardless of origin or cause) that ends up in court (there are thousands if not million of them against doctors and health care providers in U.S.A. alone).

What happens is plaintiff's attorney argues before the court(s) that mishap happened because health care provider did not provided correct translation in complete foreign language and it was provided with half english and half foreign languages and thereby, patient did not understood the direction and or the procedures and thereby, doctor or the health care provider is liable for mishap, accident or mistake = mal-practice.

However, if a doctor or a health care provider, direct the patient "as per law" in complete foreign language, plaintiff's attorney simply will not be able to bring "half english half foreign language" argument before the court and liability charges against doctors or health care provider from "language translation related charges" can be avoided.

Your opinion welcome.

Thank you all


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DGK T-I  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:30
Member (2003)
Georgian to English
+ ...
I've taken the liberty of moving the thread to "Being Independent forum" Sep 12, 2003

as "Ask the experts" is really for CAT tool advice and similar (apologies for the title of that forum being a bit misleading)

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Iftekhar Hassan
United States
Local time: 22:30
English to Bengali
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Sep 12, 2003

Dr. Giuli Kvrivishvili wrote:

as "Ask the experts" is really for CAT tool advice and similar (apologies for the title of that forum being a bit misleading)



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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:00
English to Tamil
+ ...
If the title is misleading, should it not be rectified? Sep 13, 2003

I guess that this is not the first time such misunderatandings have occurred. It would be better to make the forum title unambiguous.

Dr. Giuli Kvrivishvili wrote:

as "Ask the experts" is really for CAT tool advice and similar (apologies for the title of that forum being a bit misleading)



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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:00
English to Tamil
+ ...
Who is to pay for the translation? Sep 13, 2003

Is the law clear on this? Is it the doctor or the patient, who is to bear the cost of translation? I am under the impression, it is the patient in actual practice. The doctor will just add the translation charges to his bill.

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DGK T-I  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:30
Member (2003)
Georgian to English
+ ...
I agree entirely (and think you are right :-). Sep 13, 2003

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:

I guess that this is not the first time such misunderatandings have occurred. It would be better to make the forum title unambiguous.

Dr. Giuli Kvrivishvili wrote:

as "Ask the experts" is really for CAT tool advice and similar (apologies for the title of that forum being a bit misleading)

I believe this might be something that thought is being given to at the moment.


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DGK T-I  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:30
Member (2003)
Georgian to English
+ ...
Responsibility Sep 13, 2003

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:

Is the law clear on this? Is it the doctor or the patient, who is to bear the cost of translation? I am under the impression, it is the patient in actual practice. The doctor will just add the translation charges to his bill.


I'm not a lawyer, but I think Narasimhan makes a good point that immediate responsibility might often lie with whoever commissioned the translator/interpreter, which may vary depending on the country and the situation. Obviously translators or interpreters themselves have a heavy responsibility to be competent to do their job - for the sake of the health of the patient, as well as to guard against litigation, whoever might be the target or be liable. There are also the questions of the translator/interpreter's own liabilility, perhaps affected by whether translated material is directly for one patient to use, or should be examined by doctors, pharmacists or other experts in the target language before use, the existance of contracts (subject to the laws of the country) and indemnity insurance for parties involved.


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