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Linguistic Factors in Arabic for Miscommunication of Medication Names

Authors Hashmi TF

Received 29 August 2019

Accepted for publication 21 January 2020

Published 13 February 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 175—178

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S229115

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser


Taqi F Hashmi

Family Physician, Primary Health Care Corporation, Doha, Qatar

Correspondence: Taqi F Hashmi
Family Physician, Primary Health Care Corporation, PO Box 26555, Doha, Qatar
Email thashmi@phcc.gov.qa

Abstract: A commentary and analysis on the miscommunication of medication names between native Arabic-speaking patients and pharmacists with a native English-speaking family physician using Medical English as a Lingua Franca (MELF), in a healthcare context. An important cause of communication difficulties is the different way native English and native Arabic speakers linguistically process medication names when using MELF. This is likely to be explained by the differences in the native grammars of English and Arabic which determine differences in pronunciation and predict potential error prone groupings of letters and sounds. This in turn leads to repeating linguistic errors such as epenthesis (insertion of additional vowels between consonants) and metathesis (the swapping of adjacent consonants). The article highlights a case where both epenthesis and metathesis occur simultaneously leading to a potential serious adverse event through a medication error and suggests further avenues of research to minimise such errors.

Keywords: medication errors, Arabic, metathesis, epenthesis, Medical English as a Lingua Franca, MELF

Corrigendum for this paper has been published

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