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If this were a translation mistake, would the translator be liable?
Thread poster: Álvaro Espantaleón

Álvaro Espantaleón  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:37
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sep 16, 2015

I have just read something about a "mix up translation" that caused a big error leading to a double mastectomy and I was wondering what would happen to the translator that committed this mistake.

This is the news: http://www.theolivepress.es/spain-news/2015/09/16/exclusive-british-expats-breast-op-horror-story-after-spain-translation-mix-up/


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Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:37
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
This is exactly what professional indemnity insurance is for Sep 16, 2015

I can't really comment from a point of any real knowledge, but this is exactly why we have professional indemnity insurance.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:37
English to Spanish
+ ...
Insurance Sep 16, 2015

Every time this subject arises I ask if anyone knows of a translator who has become subject to liability. It's been years and years, and I have yet to get an affirmative reply. Thus, professional liability insurance appears to be totally unnecessary.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:37
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
There was no translator Sep 16, 2015



If I understand correctly, there was no translator. But the story contains too little information to make a reasonable judgment about the case. The English woman claims that the Spanish doctors misinterpreted the English woman's medical records. However, I find it odd that they would remove her breasts without doing an examination of the lump themselves. Is it normal that doctors remove breasts based solely on the fact that there is an unidentified lump in it and that you have breast cancer in your family? The hospital hasn't commented yet, except to say that they do provide an interpreter if the patient asks for one.


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Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:37
English to French
+ ...
that is a question for a court Sep 16, 2015

Alvaro Espantaleon wrote:
... what would happen to the translator that committed this mistake.



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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:37
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Read the fine print on your "professional indemnity insurance" Sep 16, 2015

There was a case involving translation liability insurance (I believe it was the one that used to be sold by the ATA - they use a different company now) wherein the policy states that any interaction with the client to resolve the dispute nullifies the insurance coverage.

In other words, each and every time a customer has a dispute, you must immediately file the claim with the insurance company. Any attempt to negotiate with the client, correct the error, etc. violates that clause and negates the coverage.


Angela Rimmer wrote:

I can't really comment from a point of any real knowledge, but this is exactly why we have professional indemnity insurance.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:37
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
As the saying goes.. Sep 16, 2015

"You can't get blood from a stone".

Henry Hinds wrote:

Every time this subject arises I ask if anyone knows of a translator who has become subject to liability. It's been years and years, and I have yet to get an affirmative reply. Thus, professional liability insurance appears to be totally unnecessary.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:37
French to English
Same answer as the same answer as before Sep 16, 2015

Henry Hinds wrote:

Every time this subject arises I ask if anyone knows of a translator who has become subject to liability. It's been years and years, and I have yet to get an affirmative reply. Thus, professional liability insurance appears to be totally unnecessary.


You keep saying this, and I keep saying the same thing. Yes, I know of one.

http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/282605-certified_translations_and_liability.html#2403019

You have to follow quite a chain of links by now to get to the actual story, but it's there

Hope your translation memory (as it were!) is better than your anecdotal memory....!


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:37
Member (2008)
French to English
Unprofessional translation Sep 16, 2015

In this case, it looks like the doctors attempted to translate her medical records themselves.


...doctors at A Coruna’s Abente y Lago hospital had misinterpreted her medical records.

She claims the hospital never provided her with a translator,...


A professional translator would have prevented the problem, not caused it.


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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 07:37
German to English
+ ...
SWhe'd lived in Spain for 7 years Sep 16, 2015

and only had "limited Spanish"??? There is a concept under English law of contributory negligence.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:37
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
And where in Spain Sep 16, 2015

David Wright wrote:
She'd lived in Spain for 7 years ... and only had "limited Spanish"??? There is a concept under English law of contributory negligence.


And not just Spain, but a part of Spain where there are very few British expats and where English isn't really spoken (Galicia). There are sizeable expat communities in Spain where most day to day communication is in English, and you don't need more than a smattering of Spanish to life comfortably, but I get the impression (from Google) that Galicia is not such a place.


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Robin Levey
Chile
Local time: 02:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
'translation' = please read the context before energising typing finger(s) Sep 16, 2015

David Wright wrote:

and only had "limited Spanish"??? There is a concept under English law of contributory negligence.


The quoted report says (with my emphasis):
She claims the hospital never provided her with a translator, despite her Spanish being ‘very limited’ at the time.


Given that she has, in her own words, "gone through eight years of hell", and this happened about as many years ago, we can infer that she had only recently arrived in Spain when this 'mis-translation' happened.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:37
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
A lot of Chinese immigrants in USA have never gained a more than limited English proficiency Sep 16, 2015

David Wright wrote:

and only had "limited Spanish"??? There is a concept under English law of contributory negligence.


even if they have been here for 30 or 40 years. 7 years is nothing.


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 12:37
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Similar case in Thailand Sep 17, 2015

Alvaro Espantaleon wrote:

I have just read something about a "mix up translation" that caused a big error leading to a double mastectomy and I was wondering what would happen to the translator that committed this mistake.

This is the news: http://www.theolivepress.es/spain-news/2015/09/16/exclusive-british-expats-breast-op-horror-story-after-spain-translation-mix-up/


There is a similar case in Thailand. It is also a lawsuit and a professional indemnity. It makes me see how serious the medical translation is.

Soonthon L.


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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 07:37
German to English
+ ...
Check fgacts before making snide rfemarks! Sep 17, 2015

Robin Levey wrote:

David Wright wrote:

and only had "limited Spanish"??? There is a concept under English law of contributory negligence.


The quoted report says (with my emphasis):
She claims the hospital never provided her with a translator, despite her Spanish being ‘very limited’ at the time.


Given that she has, in her own words, "gone through eight years of hell", and this happened about as many years ago, we can infer that she had only recently arrived in Spain when this 'mis-translation' happened.


NO: She went to Spain in 2000 and had the operation in 2007. So check facts before making snide remarks!


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If this were a translation mistake, would the translator be liable?

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