Some Pharmacists Resist the Common-Sense Idea of Translating Prescription Instructions

In areas of the country where there is a large minority of non-English speakers, some pharmacies have been pressured to translate the prescription instructions into the predominant language in the area. For example, one article explains that some California pharmacies are being pressured to translate their instructions into Chinese and Vietnamese in order to cater to the large Chinese and Vietnamese communities in that state.
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Indeed, this makes intuitive sense. How can someone who does not speak English effectively translate and understand a prescription label? By translating the instructions for the patients, pharmacists help ensure that the patients are taking the medication as prescribed by the doctor. If patients don’t obey the prescriber’s instructions, there could be drastic consequences, such as serious injury or even death.

Pharmacists Resist the Idea

New York has recently passed a law that requires pharmacists to provide translated labels, and there is currently the same discussion going on in California as well. However, some pharmacists are resisting the idea. Those against the idea offer up two reasons. First, they claim that the translated labels would require larger bottles, and people generally prefer smaller bottles of medication. The risk is that if the bottle is too large, they argue, the patient is going to take the pills out of the bottle and put them into something more convenient, without the instructions.


The second proffered reason against the new rule is that any error in the translation could render the pharmacy at fault for any of the serious consequences that can come along with the misuse of prescription drugs. In other words, pharmacists don’t like the idea because it opens them up to liability if there is an error in the translation.

Indeed, if a prescription is translated into German, but there is no pharmacist who speaks German on duty, there is no way anyone can verify that the prescription does not contain an error. However, it seems that in the long run more people will benefit if pharmacists are required to convey the prescriber’s instruction in a language that the patient understands.

Have You Been Injured By a Prescription Drug?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured by a prescription drug of any kind, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injury or loss. Depending on the facts of your case, the pharmacy may have been negligent in filling the prescription, or it may have provided you with the wrong medication altogether. In any case, pharmacies have an affirmative duty to their customers to fill prescriptions accurately and without error. When an error does occur, the law often allows those who have been injured to look to the pharmacy for answers. To learn more about the laws surrounding pharmacy error cases, click here or call 410-654-3600 to speak to a dedicated Maryland pharmacy error attorney.

More Blog Posts:

Parents Have a Hard Time When Dosing Children’s Medication Because of Metric-System Conversion, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, July 30, 2014.

Prescription Error Causes Man to Permanently Lose His Sight, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, July 16, 2014.

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