Groups bring attention to lack of translation services in N.Y. pharmacies

NEW YORK Advocacy groups in New York are calling for pharmacies to be required to offer translation services to its customers in hope of avoiding medication errors by many of the people in the state who do not speak English or do not speak English as a first language, according to published reports.

Two groups, the New York Lawyers for Public Interest and Make the Road by Walking filed a formal complaint with the state attorney general’s office, claiming 16 pharmacies in Queens and Brooklyn routinely failed to translate drug labels or provide instruction to non-English speakers, thus violating their statutory duty.

The groups are hoping for such legislation as in a 2006 law that set out language requirements for hospitals. The groups also stated the language problems are found more in chain retailers than in independent pharmacies.

The problem may soon reach higher members of government. The groups are saying that some of the customers who face these language barriers are picking up their medication but not using it because they can’t read the directions and therefore do not what the appropriate doses are. The breakdown was not released, but reports said that most likely these customers are using government health plans like Medicaid to receive their prescriptions. This, in turn, is turning into a waste of money by the government and—if it gets worse—could lead more people to look into possible solutions for all pharmacies.

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