About Careers MedBlog Contact us

Man's Wrong Leg Amputated- Facing the Language Barrier in the US

by Tanya Thomas on August 7, 2008 at 8:32 AM
Font : A-A+

Man's Wrong Leg Amputated- Facing the Language Barrier in the US

Limited English speaking skills have spelt havoc for Asians in the USA. For instance, a hapless Asian man had his wrong leg amputated because his son couldn't decipher the consent form himself! In another seemingly appalling case, a woman was jailed for failing to take her medication! Such stories are not uncommon among linguistically challenged Asian migrants in America.

More than 30 percent of 14 million Asian Americans -- most of whom are foreign born - are weak in English, making them less likely to understand explanations of medical procedures and medication instructions, officials said.


They also risk losing equal access to voting rights and education and other government services because of the language barrier.

"I have heard many stories of failed access to services because of language issues," said US House of Representatives lawmaker Mike Honda, who has introduced legislation with bipartisan support aimed at honing English language skills of immigrants.

An ethnic Hmong from Southeast Asia "had the wrong leg amputated in a surgery," he said.

"Because no translators were provided, the man's son was left with no choice but to try to interpret the consent form himself, and it was sadly misinterpreted," said Honda, who represents a district in California with one of the largest Asian populations.

The Japanese-American lawmaker cited another case, of a Lao woman suffering from tuberculosis who was "imprisoned for not taking her medications.

"Her English proficiency was limited, and the necessity of taking her medication was never explained to her. Thankfully, she filed a lawsuit for wrongful imprisonment and won," Honda said.

"These stories are not uncommon to Asian American and Pacific islanders and other minority communities. In fact, as appalling as these seem, many of our families face this reality daily," he said.

The legislation introduced by Honda and Republican lawmaker Cuban-born Ileana Ros-Lehtinen supports English literacy and civics education, ensures that schools have adequate funding for literacy programs for English language learners and creates tax incentives for employers who offer adult education and English as a second language program to their employees.

Although the bill is aimed at all immigrants, Asian American Justice Center President Karen Narasaki said the benefits "will be immense" for the Asian American community, which has a high percentage of English learners.

"More than a third of our population is limited in English proficiency and a majority are foreign-born," she said.

Asian Americans are also the most "linguistically isolated" racial groups in the United States, studies show.

About 22 percent of adults who spoke an Asian language spoke English not well or not at all, according to the 2000 Census. The percentage of seniors 65 and older in that category was 51 percent.

Among households where an Asian language is primary, 30 percent was considered to be linguistically isolated compared to 26 percent for Spanish-speaking households.

When disaggregated, the percentages are even greater among Southeast Asian groups -- 45 percent of Vietnamese Americans, 31.8 percent of Cambodian and Laotian Americans, and 35.1 percent of Hmong Americans were linguistically isolated.

Asian American groups are waging public education campaigns, including informing the community that they could be adept at retaining their culture while at the same time being proficient in English.

"At a time when language is a proxy for culture, we emphasize that learning English does not come at the expense of our identity or heritage," said AsianWeek, a San Francisco publication, in a recent editorial.

"We consider ourselves 100 percent American in our English proficiency and still consider ourselves 100 percent Asian American as we celebrate and draw upon our heritage," it said.

Source: AFP


Recommended Reading

Latest Lifestyle and Wellness News

 Brain Protein Behind High-Salt-Induced Hypertension and Cognitive Impairment
Researchers identified two key physiological systems involved in hypertension, cognitive, and emotional impairments following high salt intake.
Defying Time: Unlocking the Secrets to Wrinkle-Free Skin
Decoding the secrets of wrinkles by knowing the causes, prevention, and expert advice.
Summer's Gaze: Prioritizing Eye Care!
With the arrival of summer and the lure of outdoor activities, it is essential to give equal importance to the well-being of your eyes and skin.
Summer Makeup Battle: Conquering Humidity and Heat
Combination of high humidity and scorching heat in summer poses a daunting task for makeup wearers; balancing it is thus crucial.
Protecting Yourself from Summer Sun: Tips and Tricks
Selecting the right SPF for your skin is quite tricky, but the thumb rule is to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 for effective results.
View All
This site uses cookies to deliver our services.By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use  Ok, Got it. Close

Man's Wrong Leg Amputated- Facing the Language Barrier in the US Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests