This is the story of an 18-year old named Willie Ramirez.
Ramirez was a baseball player – and he was taken to the South Florida hospital in a comatose state, back in the 1980s. The family used the word ‘intoxicado’ repeatedly, when asked about what had happened to him.
Now when an English speaker hears the word ‘intoxicado’, they’re bound to relate it to intoxication, which then gives you the case of someone having taken a drug of some sort. The interpreter – the ‘on-the-phone’ variety, was clearly unskilled – as he too, stated that Ramirez was intoxicated due to some drug or the other.
Sadly, the doctors went ahead and treated him for drug overdose. After a few days, the medical team found out that he was bleeding from his brain – but it was too late. All of Ramirez’s limbs were paralyzed by then.
Helen Eby, a professional interpreter reviewed this case, and understood the problem – ‘intoxicado’, in the Spanish language, can mean the intake of anything – it could be food, drink, or a drug. When the family used the word, they meant that he was in this state because of some sort of intake, which needn’t be drug related.
Interpretation is a tricky business, and most definitely needs professionals handling the task.
A study by the American College of Emergency Physicians in 2012 analysed interpreter errors that had clinical consequences, and found that the error rate was significantly lower for professional interpreters than for ad hoc, non-professional interpreters — 12 percent as opposed to 22 percent. And for professionals with more than 100 hours of training, errors dropped to 2 percent.
But why am I even talking about this?
That’s easy. When you go to someone with a million-billion dollar idea, or want to optimize your business with an app – you are basically placing a lot of time, money and your idea in the hands of someone else – much like doctors depend on interpreters to tell them about what the patient is saying in order to diagnose them correctly, when they don’t speak their language.
You may be tech-savvy, you may not be – and you might not speak the same language app development companies do. But you have the right to professionalism, which is more often than not a choice!
Hiring a professional may not always be cheap. So when it comes to salvaging your idea and your precious time and resources – don’t settle, and don’t make compromises. Compromises, as we can see, can be very costly. Hiring a professional has literally saved lives – and it may just save the life of your idea, or venture.
Call the Professional, Perhaps Save a Life!March 24, 2017