SWEDEN. A baby that were born in Skövde contracted jaundice a couple of days after birth. But the parents couldn’t understand the instructions given by the medical staff and it ended with the baby getting a brain damage.
The parents didn’t speak Swedish so the care staff informed them in English. But they didn’t understand very much English either. They were told that they had to call a doctor if the child started to turn yellow, but they interpreted it as they didn’t have to worry if the baby turned yellow.
A child with jaundice first looks really tanned and then turns yellow, including the whites of the eyes, and it can look quite scary. The parents did called the health centre, but perhaps the language difference caused problems there too because they didn’t get to see a doctor. When they arrived at the hospital for a check up after five days the baby had cramps and opistonus (a condition that means that the head, neck and back bends backwards).
The responsible physichian said that it’s routine to use a translator in these cases, but somehow that wasn’t done. Perhaps there weren’t any that could come since it’s a shortage of translators. It’s a terribly sad situation, but it could have been avoided if the parents had learned Swedish! No amount of interpreters or translated written information can be better and cheaper than that.