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Are there examples of medical translation gone wrong?

By Melia Yanat, Lingolet Team

Are there examples of medical translation gone wrong?

One of the most infamous examples in the history of medical translation errors : 

When 18-year-old Willie Ramirez was admitted to hospital in a coma in 1980, his family, who spoke Spanish, described him as intoxicated. 

While the medical staff translated this as "intoxicated" or "drunk," the word referred to being poisoned or having ingested something that made you sick. Ramirez had a brain hemorrhage, but doctors wasted valuable time trying to treat his symptoms as if he had overdosed. 

The delay in his treatment made Ramirez a person with quadriplegia, and his family sued and won a $71 million settlement. This tragic mistake cost Willie and the hospital dearly. 

In 2020, technological solutions have emerged to ensure remote access to interpreting and translating. Lingolet is the first to offer an on-demand solution with more than 3,000 interpreters and a complete management platform for administrators.


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Learn more about medical translation: 


  • Why are medical translation errors unacceptable, and how can they be avoided

  • Is there a difference in medical language between Quebec French and French from France?

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