Your Doc must speak English – but so must you

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Diagnosing Doc
Your Doc can’t suss what’s wrong if you can’t say either

It’s kinda wonderful that our country has so many people of different backgrounds and cultures.

Say what you like about immigration, one thing it does bring us is oxygen.

New attitudes, new ideas, new ways of looking at things.

Determination too.

When you change your country, you start again from nothing.  You know you’ve GOT to succeed.

Johnny Foreigner’s new home

Which of course includes the language.

After all, you chose a new country. You’re the one who has to fit in.

Which gets kinda critical when you go to the Doc. More crucial still if you wind up in A&E.

Because though your medic might be the most highly trained medical observer in the world – it’s you who provides the info for the diagnosis.

You’re the one with the condition, right? It’s you who’s looking for help.

But how good are you at describing what’s wrong? And how good are you at recognising what your own body is telling you?

It’s not just English you have to speak, it’s meaningful sense.

So you’re an Aussie here on vac and you speak the lingo, no probs.

But “Aw, I feel crook,” might not be enough for that bright young doctor from Poland to suss out what’s ailing you.

“It’s me gut, aw geez,” doesn’t help much either, even though you’re rolling around in agony.

Only you can know how your own body feels. So only you can explain it, even though you’re not a doctor, or even close to one.

Fatal mistakes

How accurate is what you say? And how accurate is your Doc’s understanding of it?

If you guess and you’re wrong, things could get serious. Like the pensioner who OD’d, when his German doctor upped his diamorphine dose 20 times.

Language can be a killer, so can your understanding of it. (Tweet this) What you THINK you know.

Take Esteban, desperate to find a job because there’s none in his part of Spain.

Constipado,” he says he feels. And the Doc starts looking at his stomach.

Constipation is what it sounds like, it even says so on Google. Enter “Estoy constipado” and you get the return “I’m constipated.”

Except he’s not constipated, he has a cold. And a cold so bad that he’s sitting in A&E is not likely to be your average cough-sniffle.

Which might be just how our next bird flu epidemic starts.

It’s not the Doc who got the diagnosis wrong. It’s the patient who explained the symptoms wrong.

But how many times has a doctor got into trouble from such a simple misunderstanding?

So contrary to a lot of folks, it’s not discriminating or excluding to insist that everyone speaks the same language. And understands the same idioms.

There are too many times when lives are at stake. Telling the Doc what’s wrong with you. Telling the cop how the accident happened.

The same songsheet

And that applies to locals too.

“It’s me leg, innit?” might not be enough to stop an unnecessary amputation.

N’est pas?

Originally posted 2015-02-03 13:37:08.