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In today's Your Healthy Family, UCHealth recently launched a new initiative that automatically translates patients’ labels on their prescription bottles from English into their preferred language, as stated in their medical records.
Scott Suckow, the director of language and cultural services for UCHealth, told me about it recently. Part of the reason for this new initiative is a convenience for those in Colorado who do not speak English as their preferred language, says Scott. “Medications are super important to a patient’s health care. I’m sure you can imagine trying to decipher a medication label that's printed in a language that you personally do not understand, like Korean and Vietnamese, or Arabic. So it could make it that much easier to make mistakes in taking your medications properly.”
However, this new initiative goes beyond convenience and is based on more important reasons, such as safety. “There was a study not long ago that showed that parents of children who had a language other than English as their preferred language made errors in dosing their children twice as often as parents who spoke English. That's not great, and another study showed that patients whose preferred language is not English rated their own medications to be less effective than English-speaking patients do. That’s important because that might lead them to stop their medications, or double up on them and make other medication errors, ultimately harming their medical outcomes.”
UCHealth does have translator services for patients, but with the number of prescriptions that could be requested at one time, Scott says another solution made more sense than having translators do the work locally as needed.
“We have worked with a partner who has human translators who have manually translated all sorts of different prescriptions into 26 very common languages. Now, when an English language prescription comes through the system from the provider, through our medical record system, it will automatically print out in the language the patient has indicated as their preferred language in their medical chart.”
“This covers prescriptions that are standardized and very common. If your doctor prescribes something that's rather unique, or more confusing, or is a more complicated prescription label, then that will print out in English. So, if you speak a language that's not included in these top 26 languages, we always have UCHealth interpreters available to help facilitate that conversation between the patient and their provider or their pharmacist.”
To learn more if you have questions, visit UCHealth's site.
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