Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Few Pharmacies Can Translate Prescription Labels Into Spanish

Date:
June 1, 2009
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
Surprisingly few pharmacies in the US are able to translate prescription medication instructions into Spanish, making it difficult for patients who speak only Spanish to understand how to take their medications properly, according to a new study. The first multi-state study investigating the ability of pharmacies to translate prescription labels found more than half of the pharmacies were unable to translate any labels or could do only a limited number of translations.

Surprisingly few pharmacies in the U.S. are able to translate prescription medication instructions into Spanish, making it difficult for patients who speak only Spanish to understand how to take their medications properly, according to a new study from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Related Articles


The first multi-state study investigating the ability of pharmacies to translate prescription labels found more than half of the pharmacies were unable to translate any labels or could do only a limited number of translations. The study looked at pharmacies in states with a large existing Latino population (Texas and Colorado) and in states with a rapid growth in Latino population (Georgia and North Carolina). These states -- because of their large Latino populations -- are likely to have the greatest demand and capability for translation. Other states may be further behind, researchers said.

"The lack of translation for prescription medication instructions is a major problem," said lead author Stacy Cooper Bailey, clinical research associate and director of the Health Literacy and Learning Program at Northwestern's Feinberg School. "If you don't know how to take your medications correctly, it is going to be difficult for you to manage your medical condition. Taking medications incorrectly could cause serious problems or even death."

The study will appear in the June issue of the journal Medical Care.

Bailey said the study results indicate the overall problem is far more prevalent than what had been suggested in prior single-site studies conducted in New York and Milwaukee.

Bailey and colleagues surveyed 764 pharmacies, including national chains, in four states. The study found 34.9 percent (267) could not offer any translation services; 21.7 percent (166) offered only limited translation services and 43.3 percent (331) said they could provide translated instructions. Of the total, 28 percent were independent pharmacies and 72 percent were part of national, regional or state chains.

The data also showed that 44 percent of pharmacies located in counties where the Latino population exceeds a quarter of the population were unable to provide comprehensive Spanish medication instructions.

"The numbers are much worse than I anticipated," Bailey said.

"A lot of effort has gone into improving language services in hospitals, but pharmacies have been overlooked," Bailey said. "That is unfortunate because a lot of people take medications. It's one of the most common health tasks that you have to perform. Knowing how to take your medications correctly is essential."

Bailey said some pharmacists report being afraid to use translations because they don't know what the Spanish translations mean. "They worry they are giving an incorrect instruction and they will be liable for it," Bailey said. "Pharmacies also may not be aware of software programs that offer translations," she added.

Availability of translations is likely to be even worse for people who speak a language other than Spanish, Bailey said. "We have to be able to provide medication instructions in multiple languages, even beyond Spanish. More laws need to be passed to guide and enforce language services in pharmacies. We also need to come up with innovative ways of helping pharmacies provide these services. There are ways to overcome this obstacle."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bailey, Stacy Cooper; Pandit, Anjali U.; Curtis, Laura; Wolf, Michael S. Availability of Spanish Prescription Labels: A Multi-State Pharmacy Survey. Medical Care, 2009; 47 (6): 707-710 DOI: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e318195fd02

Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Few Pharmacies Can Translate Prescription Labels Into Spanish." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090528161403.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2009, June 1). Few Pharmacies Can Translate Prescription Labels Into Spanish. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090528161403.htm
Northwestern University. "Few Pharmacies Can Translate Prescription Labels Into Spanish." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090528161403.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

AP (Nov. 21, 2014) Marine Corps officials say a special operations officer left paralyzed by a sniper's bullet in Afghanistan walked using robotic leg braces in a ceremony to award him a Bronze Star. (Nov. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins