The push is on to make prescription translations mandatory in California.
According to the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, a lack of universal standards for labeling on dispensed prescription containers is a root cause for patients misunderstanding the drugs they are taking.
"If people can't read the prescription bottle, it's a really dangerous situation," said Dr. David Margolius, who works in internal medicine and has been outspoken when it comes to pushing for mandatory translations for prescriptions. "If a label doesn't make sense to the people who are taking the medication, they are already at a disadvantage."
Statistics show more than 700,000 emergency room visits across the county are caused by not taking drugs properly. In addition, hospitals are spending nearly $6 million a year on treating those patients.
State Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, is pushing for legislation to conduct a survey on the controversial issue.
Jimmy Yuen, who owns Advance Medical Pharmacy in Walnut Creek, provides labels on his medications in both English and Spanish. He said it is not a problem for him because of the limited service he is providing for his Spanish-speaking customers.
But Yuen said making that service mandatory could become a problem.
"I think technology is not there yet to ensure a high level of accuracy," he said.
A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for Thursday in Sacramento.