Pocket Medical Spanish Reaches 75,000 Copies in Print

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The idea for producing a practical interpreting aid for English-speaking medical professionals was born more than two decades ago and has now reached 75,000 copies in print. The book contains common phrases -- in English, Spanish and phonetic transliteration of the Spanish -- that assist medical professionals in diagnosing illnesses in patients who don’t speak English. The medical professional only has to know the Spanish words for yes, no and I don’t know.

Booksmythe has announced “Pocket Medical Spanish” has reached 75,000 copies in print. Author Russell Dollinger first got the idea for creating the handy interpreting aid for medical professionals over 23 years ago.

The book is the best selling of Dollinger’s series of interpretive aids for medical professionals. “Pocket Medical Spanish,” a spiral bound communication tool, has been so successful that it has been in continuous production since it was first published in 1992. Other versions of the tool are available in Russian/English and French/English.

Paramedics in the field, doctors, nurses, and others must be able to communicate quickly, easily, and accurately with their patients—it’s literally a matter of life and death. “The book has absolutely helped break the language barrier between Spanish-speaking patients and medical professionals, and it has saved countless lives” said Dollinger, who got the idea for creating the book after he and his wife visited a friend in the cardiac care unit of a hospital in 1983.

“The woman in the bed next to our friend only spoke Russian, and the nurses were unable to communicate with her about her basic health care needs,” Dollinger said. “My wife, who is a court interpreter and translator, wrote some simple Russian phrases for the nurses such as ‘Turn your head and cough,’ and an idea was born.”

The 134-page “Pocket Medical Spanish” is priced at $13.95 and is about the size of a PDA or personal music player, measuring just 5.3 by 3.5 inches. It’s designed to be used like a flip chart, with some 400 medical questions and statements organized in tabbed chapters.

The book is divided into 12 sections, with several common medical problems like chest pain, nervous system disorders and OB/GYN complaints as chapter headings. The book is practical and easy to use.

On one side of each page is a medical question in English, Spanish and phonetic transliteration. The question is also written in Spanish on the other side for the patient to follow along.

“Following the phonetics, the provider can pronounce understandable Spanish,” Dollinger said. “And if the provider cannot pronounce it, the patient can still understand by reading along. Since the patient can both 'see' and 'hear' each phrase, "Pocket Medical Spanish" is inherently multimodal, and therefore, more accurate.”

Medical professionals use the book to ask questions in Spanish like “Do you have chest pain?” or give commands such as “Touch the part of your body that bothers you.” The only Spanish they need to know to communicate with the patient are the words for yes, no and I don’t know.

Besides its attractiveness to those who work in all aspects of medical care, Dollinger said the book is also popular with Spanish-speaking patients with limited knowledge of English who want to communicate better with their doctors. He said it’s also used by immigrants who want to improve their English, Americans traveling to Spanish-speaking countries and physicians from other countries studying for their U.S. licensing exams.

“Pocket Medical Spanish” has been used by physicians with Doctors Without Borders and other medical aid missions as well as thousands of doctors, nurses, chiropractors, EMTs, paramedics, and other medical professionals. NASA officials working with Russian cosmonauts have also used the Russian version of this practical, interpretive guide.

Companies like Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Pfizer Pharmaceutical, Kaiser Permanente, JPS Hospital, County USC, LA and Phoenix Fire Departments, Ingram, Rittenhouse, Matthews, Baker & Taylor and many others have been customers of Booksmythe.

“The book makes a nice gift for someone graduating from medical or nursing school,” Dollinger says. An accompanying audio cassette with native speakers is also available. A cd version will be available soon.

In combination with Ingenuitor, Inc., a California-based, high-tech company, Booksmythe is developing an electronic form of "Pocket Medical Spanish" that can be used on a pda or other platform.

Dollinger has a Ph.D. in anatomy from UCLA, a bachelor’s degree in biology from UC-Davis, and he has pursued a number of creative endeavors in publishing and other areas.

More information about the book is at: http://www.booksmythe.com/pms.html


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