Lost in (Medical) Translation


A language barrier in an emergency medical situation can have dreadful results.

According to a New England Journal of Medicine report from 2006, “Some 49.6 million Americans (18.7 percent of U.S. residents) speak a language other than English at home; 22.3 million (8.4 percent) have limited English proficiency, speaking English less than “very well,” according to self-ratings.”

The gap between English speaking medical personnel and patients is of present concern. First responders have little time when they get to a scene to decipher what the problems are. If someone is injured who doesn’t speak English, it is difficult for an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) to assess the problem quickly and correctly.

Although they are trying to help, “ad hoc interpreters, including family members, friends, untrained members of the support staff, and strangers found in waiting rooms or on the street [are…] considerably more likely than professional interpreters to commit errors that may have adverse clinical consequences.” The room for translation error is problematic and can affect a patient’s treatment.

That’s where the 1st Minute App comes into play. The need for a mobile application that translates medical phrases rapidly enough for first response situations is crucial. The 1st Minute App swiftly (and sans wifi) translates medical symptoms for first responders who do not speak a patient’s language. The app prompts patients to choose which area of the body is symptomatic, and go from there to medical history and allergies. The summary is then translated back to English.

The key features of 1st Minute are that it is fast and available anywhere. For first responders in the field, there is not always going to be cell service or Internet connection. 1st Minute App is available to use without a network and caters to first responder’s specific triage protocol.

This application bridges the language gap in emergency situations. When someone’s life is on the line, there is no need to be lost in translation.



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