Poor interpretation can be deadly, and that is why just bilingual staff cannot replace a professional interpreter, especially in life and death situations. Professional translators and interpreters are allies for professionals of other specialties and in many cases cannot be replaced by translation tools with artificial intelligence or bilingual staff without proper training in cultural mediation. Unfortunate cases such as that of Willie Ramírez, a Hispanic U.S. young man that ended up being the victim of a poor interpretation, underline the need to guarantee everybody’s right to understand and be understood efficiently.

On many occasions, the role of professional translators and interpreters is underestimated and there is a misconception that any person with advanced command of two languages or completely bilingual, without training in translation, can effectively perform such a specialized labor. There are even those who go further and believe that a translation engine with artificial intelligence, such as Google’s Translator or DeepL, is sufficient to guarantee effective communication. And within the context of misconceptions and conceptual errors, poor interpretation can cost lives.

But what is the right thing to do? Resort to translation applications? Hire a professional translator or use a bilingual person? Let us see one of many controversial examples.

The unfortunate reality

Immigration and customs

According to a report published by BBC news, , the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Agency (USCIS), in one of its International Refugee Assistance Project manuals, advised its officials to “use one of the many online translation services provided by Google, Yahoo, Bing and others” to translate foreign language content and check the social network profiles of refugee applicants in that country or migrants; without noticing the mishaps that an inaccurate or incorrect translation could trigger, above all, against those who require special protection.


Wrong ideas about the work of professional interpreters


And while on the one hand there are those who believe that artificial intelligence replaces the professional translator and interpreter, we also find those who have resorted to bilingual people without translation training, involved in situations with extreme consequences, as happened to the young man of Hispanic descent Willie Ramirez.

A case of poor interpretation with lifelong consequences 

On the night of January 22, 1980, Willie went with a friend to a restaurant to eat a hamburger, and while there he suffered a severe headache and ended up unconscious, for which he was transferred to a hospital in South Florida.

His family members, who were not fluent in English, associated the problem to what they believed was food poisoning related to the food he ate. They thought the hamburger he ate would have caused an adverse reaction and told the bilingual hospital staff that Willie was “intoxicado“; thus, this staff, with supposed mastery of the Spanish language, translated the term into English as intoxicated, clearly a false friend, that is to say, a word that seems to have the same meaning.

The word intoxicado in Spanish refers to the ingestion of a poison or something that is toxic to us, according to the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy of the Spanish Language (RAE). On the other hand, the word intoxicated in English, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary of the English language, refers to the person affected by alcohol or drugs, at a level where physical and mental control are greatly diminished.

The confusion of the two voices – with different meanings – by the bilingual staff led the treating physician to provide Willie with drug overdose treatment that was not consistent with his bleeding brain condition. This caused irreversible damage and left him a lifelong quadriplegic. For this reason, the hospital -subject to a civil action by the victim’s family- was forced to pay $71 million in compensation for the damages caused.

Late corrective measures and a painful lesson

From this case, the rule was reinforced that any health care institution receiving funds from the U.S. federal government must ensure the availability of translators and interpreters for non-English speaking patients (in accordance with Title VI, Section 1557 of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act).

So what does the experience tell you? Translators and interpreters are allies to many professions through the translation of many technical works, scientific research, and literary masterpieces, not to mention their work at large conferences, summits, and other events, and are of paramount importance when it comes to saving lives or ensuring due process.

Understanding the importance of language professionals

Medical Interpreting

Without denying the usefulness and progress of automatic translation engines in different situations, and how timely the help of a bilingual person can be in a place where we do not know the language, it is necessary to be clear in which contexts the services of a professional translator or interpreter is required. Notorious cases such as Willie Ramirez’s underscore the need to ensure the right of all to understand and be understood efficiently, and translators and interpreters will be there, willing to bridge those communication gaps.



Carmelo Velásquez

 Language Director

ITU Translation Services 


ITU Translations- International Translations USA IconITU Translations- International Translations USA

13550 Southwest 88th Street Ste. 270B, Miami

4.9 68 reviews

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    10/10 Excellent Service! Highly recommend, good price, Very professional and friendly!!
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    Such a great service and communication was very easy. I will definitely use again. 10/10. Simply awesome!
  • Avatar David Aguado ★★★★★ 4 months ago
    Very happy with the service they provided. Reached out to them to translate documents from Spanish to English, they were fast and very professional throughout the process. I will definitely use them again and recommend their services.
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    They were very professional and timely! I will use their services again!
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    I used their services to translate from English to Spanish, they were very professional, fast and excellent price.I will definitely use their services again.
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    This is Jelly. (using hubbies Gmail acct) After seeking so many places to translate a letter from Spanish to English, I thought it was impossible..... good thing my husband told me about ITU, I reached out and they were very quick to respond, … More very efficient, and overall very professional. Great prices too. I highly recommend this place very much you won't regret it.I hope this helps out anyone looking a trustworthy translating company.Thank you very much ITU for everything!
  • Avatar Renny Delgado ☆☆☆☆ 7 months ago
    Poor performance. They had to correct inaccuracies in my one page birth certificate 2 times. They promise the translation for next or whatever day and deliver weeks later after complaining time after time. Looks like one individual dba … More some corporation thal also do real estate. Stay away from this!UPDATE. this company attempt to buy my opinion. See picture.
  • Avatar Teresa Pedroza-Orozco ★★★★★ a year ago
    I am a lead instructor at an Adult School in California where we serve English as a Second Language students. Our ESL students who wish to pursue a high school diploma, enter college, or re-validate their career need translating services. … More ITU has been providing translating services for our students for many years. I personally have been referring my students to them for the past six years. Since I work closely with my students, they have always reported prompt service with a high level o professionalism. Their fees are very reasonable. Due to our school's and ITU geographical location, all transactions have to be online/electronic bases. This has never been a problem. I highly recommend ITU Translation Services.
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    Good customer service, very professional they attended to me in an emergency fast very economical
  • Avatar Alexis Barbosa ★★★★★ 10 months ago
    Hi ! I used ITU several times and always satisfied ! The team is working quickly and deliver a professional work with recognized certificates. I really recommend this service all over the world.
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    Our office was very impressed and highly satisfied with the responsiveness and quality work they provided with a quick turn around time. They were very professional and worked with us in a pro bono case for a detained client. Thanks to … More ITU's fast responsiveness and accurate translation services, we were able to file in a timely manner with immigration court. We look forward to working with them in the future.
  • Avatar Edith Marie ★★★★★ 2 years ago
    Impeccable communication and service from Laura and Reynaldo! Go-to translation service when looking for birth certificate translations or notaries of any documents. Trust me after calling 25 spots around Miami, these guys were the only … More ones who were never sketchy with me. Everything was clear and upfront. You can trust two with any job needed quick and low-priced. Thank you again, will be coming back around soon with more potential work to be done.
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    I am very happy to write about my experience with ITU Services. From the first moment I contacted Reynaldo and his staff, everybody was incredibly helpful, attentive, professional, and efficient. Their work ethic is completely admirable, … More promptly delivering all of the translations, apostilles, and certifications that I personally needed.They really understood the task to get these documents done and I could not be more thankful with the results. They're also great with affordable prices. I will always recommend ITU Services to anyone without a doubt. Thank you guys!
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    Amazing service and helped me when I was on a time crunch! Also fixed some mistakes asap. 10/10 would go there again!
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    Very fast, professional and good prices. I would recommend them. I did everything online with them. Payment was very easy. I went in person to pick up the translation certificate although they offer to send it by FedEx if you live far. … More
  • Avatar Documents International LLC Apostille Documents ★★★★★ 3 years ago
    Outstanding service! We have been working with ITU for a few years now and they have always been very professional, fast and the prices are very reasonable. I would recommend their services to anyone. Thank you very much!
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    Thank you for your services. Very efficient and organized work. Customer services was spectacular and the communication between me and ITU was impeccable. Will use your services again.
    Great Job!
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    Excellent Service- highly recommend- staff of professionals ready to get it done.
  • Avatar Gerencia Financiera Noveno ★★★★★ 2 years ago
    Excellent service, reasonable price and outstanding results, Carla was very professional, she made sure to understand our need before starting the job and gave us very good advice.