by: Joshua L Harris MD
Let’s face it, in today’s medical system, it helps to be bilingual.
Even with translators omnipresent in today’s hospitals, they are not always available on an emergent or convenient basis.
Many of us may have learned Spanish in our schooling and may be comfortable with the grammar, but don’t have a great vocabulary base. That’s especially true when you try to speak medical Spanish.
Enter Emergency Medical Spanish by Mavro for Android.
This app fills the aforementioned gap in vocabulary in an easy to use format. After startup, you are greeted by a bold color infused menu of categories you can choose to peruse. While this list doesn’t quite match up with the body systems or the interview format (History of present illness, past medical history, etc…) we commonly use every day, it is organized into sensible conversation topics.
Lets say you have a 70 year old diabetic hypertensive hypercholesterolemic with a family history of ten relatives who have had heart attacks and your patient presents clutching their chest, speaks only Spanish, and your interpreter is 30 minutes away. Enter the chest pain section!
This provides many relevant questions to help you make quick decisions before the interpreter arrives- answering the question of “does this patient require Aspirin and Nitroglycerin now, or should we just start by drawing labs and waiting for the interpreter”.
Many relevant questions are included, from basic questions in the history of present illness to more specific questions. It also has questions related to the presentation such as “did your pain go away after taking nitroglycerin,” as well as relevant past/social/family history.
Another example is for stroke, a situation where “time is brain” and it may be important to start evaluating your patient before an interpreter is available to see if they are a potential tPA candidate or not. While the app does not contain enough information to fully complete the NIH stroke scale, it will at least get you close enough to know if you should be calling neurology or not.
This app additionally offers the option of a Spanish pronunciation by finger clicking on the phrase. The app will then speak the phrase in clear and pleasant voice with excellent annunciation; allowing one to play the sound clip to the patient if there is a communication breakdown.
Again, all of the sections cater towards emergency situations. This will likely not be much use to a floor or office setting unless you are also evaluating an emergent complaint. The major categories of life threatening presentations are covered, however you will not find this app to be useful for evaluation of less severe complaints. This is probably better though, as you should be waiting for an interpreter anyway.
The great part about this app is that almost all the questions are in yes or no format. If you are a Spanish speaker, you understand that different Spanish speaking countries have very different pronunciations. This takes away the risk of getting a lengthy response that you don’t understand. The only time questions are not in a yes/no format is when the question isn’t conducive to such an answer, for example, “please point to your pain.” However in these cases the questions usually ask for a simple action.
Review Version: 2.1.19
Phone Used for Review: HTC Thunderbolt
- $3.99 version available for ad removal, allowing bookmarks, and creating flashcards
- Quick, easy to use interface
- Relevant questions
- The pronunciation clips are a great addition
- A search feature would be nice
- Of course, this app will never be a replacement for a trained interpreter. However, most hospitals have one interpreter for many patients, if not the whole hospital
- This app allows a practitioner with a basic knowledge of Spanish in an emergency setting to quickly assess a potentially critical patient when an interpreter is not rapidly available