Monthly Archives: August 2013

Patient-interpreter bill aims to overcome language barriers –via LA Times

By Titania Kumeh

August 18, 2013, 4:57 p.m.

Five years ago, Julio Perez’s mother didn’t understand what the doctors and nurses were saying. Her 4-year-old son, Perez’s younger brother, was on a ventilator, his health worsening as bacteria in his blood began infecting his vital organs.

But Perez said his mother didn’t know what doctors were trying to tell her when they woke her up in the hospital, sometimes at 3 in the morning, with news about her young son. She speaks limited English, Perez said, and the hospital didn’t have an interpreter available. So Perez, 19 at the time, did the interpreting for her and the doctors.

“It was very distressing, because I didn’t know if the information I was interpreting was correct,” said the Norwalk resident. “I feel like being placed in that situation added more confusion to the whole situation.” He added that “it was very difficult, just the feeling that someone’s life was depending on me.”

According to a 2012 study prepared for the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, pediatric patients with limited-English-proficient families who speak Spanish “have a much greater risk for serious medical events during hospitalizations than patients whose families are English-proficient.”

Perez’s younger brother held on for months but eventually died in the hospital of a blood infection.

That experience, Perez says, is the main reason he joined the advocacy group Interpreting for California, a coalition working with Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) to pass a bill that would make a statewide medical-interpretation program available to Medi-Cal patients.

Julio Perez says that at age 19, serving as interpreter for his mother while his younger brother was seriously ill "was very distressing."

At a recent Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting, Pérez and two other members of the group asked that they encourage Gov. Jerry Brown to sign the bill, AB 1263. It would require the state Department of Health Care Services to apply for federal money that would pay for a certified medical-interpreter program.

Such a program is needed, supporters say, to prepare hospitals for the millions of limited-English speakers expected to use healthcare services over the next few years.

Under the Affordable Care Act, about 500,000 people who speak limited English will be eligible to join Medi-Cal next year, according to a study by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, an advocacy organization in Oakland.

But language barriers could affect the safety of those patients. People with limited English proficiency face a higher risk of being misdiagnosed or receiving unnecessary treatments that could hasten their deaths, according to the bill’s supporters and health officials.

Limited-English speakers also are more likely to avoid hospitals altogether, opting for community clinics where staffers might speak their language but are not always equipped to handle certain ailments.

To read more of this article courtesy of the Los Angeles Times, click the link below.,0,5610841.story

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Blind and deaf man’s caregivers sued over lack of access to interpreters –via Concord Monitor



Monitor staff

The cues offer direction in a world Teddy Losacano can’t see or hear. A tap on the leg means it’s time to eat. A gentle tug at the arm tells the Penacook man it’s time to go, follow the person leading.

But last week, as David Losacano tried to communicate with his brother, those cues got in the way.

“How are you?” David asked aloud as he formed his fingers into signs and spelled the question into Teddy’s cupped palms. As he finished, David rested his hands on his brother’s legs.

Here, the touch meant affection. But Teddy didn’t know that. So he stood up.

“See, he thought it was time to eat,” David said, leaning back in his chair as his brother walked to the kitchen and patted the table, looking for lunch. “How can I come up and say just a regular conversation or ‘Hi’? ”

Right now, David can’t say those things to his brother. And 46-year-old Teddy – who is blind, deaf and has a cognitive disability sustained from a bout of scarlet fever as an infant – can’t say anything back. According to David, it hasn’t always been this way. The brothers grew up with two deaf parents and he remembers when Teddy was fluent in sign language, allowing him to respond to questions and communicate his own needs.

Those skills have slipped away not by natural deterioration, David contends, but because of disuse.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Concord, David and his lawyer, Kirk Simoneau, place blame for that digression on the organizations that coordinate Teddy’s

care: Community Bridges and Easter Seals of New Hampshire. The lawsuit gives a long-range view of Teddy’s last 15 years in assisted living homes and alleges that those organizations failed day after day to provide staff who could communicate meaningfully with him.

Simoneau then points to visit after visit where he says doctors at Concord Hospital and Riverbend’s Concord Psychiatric Associates, also defendants in the lawsuit, offered services or changed medications without a sign language interpreter present.

To read more of this article, courtesy of the Concord Monitor, click the link below.



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CA DWC Final Interpreter Services Regulations Now in Effect –via


Sacramento, CA ( – The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) has approved the Division of Workers’ Compensation’s (DWC) final version of interpreter services regulations, one of the sections that implemented major reform provisions of Senate Bill 863. The interpreter services regulations went into effect yesterday.

DWC filed its certificate of compliance for the emergency regulations with the Office of Administrative Law on July 1. The final version of the interpreter services regulations differs from the emergency regulations as follows:

The regulations specify different standards for interpreters based on where services are provided. The first standard applies to interpreters providing services at a hearing, deposition or arbitration; while the second set applies for those interpreting for a medical appointment or medical legal exam.

Interpreting at a hearing, deposition or arbitration: Interpreters must be certified or provisionally certified to qualify to be paid for interpreter services at a hearing, deposition or arbitration. Names of certified interpreters are listed on the State Personnel Board webpage or the California Courts webpage.

Provisional certification indicates that the individual has been deemed qualified to perform interpreter services when a certified interpreter cannot be present. Provisional certification is made by agreement of the parties, based on a finding by the workers’ compensation administrative law judge conducting a hearing that the individual is qualified to interpret at the hearing, or by an arbitrator conducting an arbitration that the interpreter is qualified to interpret at the arbitration.

Interpreting for a medical appointment or medical legal exam: Interpreters must be certified, certified for medical treatment appoints or medical legal exams, or provisionally certified in order to be paid for interpreter services at a medical treatment appointment or medical legal exam.

Certified interpreters’ names are listed on the State Personnel Board webpage or the California Courts webpage.

Interpreters certified for medical treatment appointments or medical legal exams qualify through successfully passing the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) exam or by passing the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (National Board). A CCHI certification or credential indicates the name of the interpreter and the language for which he or she is certified to provide interpreter services. The certification procedure is detailed on the CCHI website. CCHI credentials are valid for four years and specify the language the interpreter for which the interpreter is certified. The National Board certification is valid for five years

To read more of this article courtesy of, click the link below.

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California needs more interpreters for patients — via San Francisco Chronicle


Within minutes of the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash in July, San Francisco General Hospital administrators knew they needed language translation services to help victims of this horrific accident. The hospital’s medical staff put out the call for anyone who could interpret, and hospital personnel were able to communicate with the injured by asking Korean-speaking staff to double as interpreters. These patients were fortunate that San Francisco General found enough medical interpreters, but the unfortunate truth is that access to translation services is a major gap in our health care throughout the state.

According to the 2010 U.S. census, more than 6.5 million residents of California, 1 out of every 5, speak English “less than very well.” They frequently experience problems related to understanding their physician or other health care provider. Lack of proper interpreter services can have dire, even tragic, consequences. In one survey, almost half of the physicians were familiar with incidents in which quality of care was compromised by language barriers.

Hospital patients who speak limited English are at far greater risk of experiencing unintended harm, up to and including permanent brain damage, paralysis and death. Maria Trinidad Escobar was hit by a car while crossing an intersection. She was rushed to Regional Medical Center in San Jose, where she lapsed in and out of consciousness. Because there was no Spanish-language interpreter available, Escobar could not let care providers know that she was pregnant, allowing them to administer painkillers that could have led to the loss of her child. Her child survived, but other patients have not been so lucky.

To read more of this article courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle, click the link below.

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Police take Spanish, Vietnamese language classes to combat barriers –via Fox 8



New Orleans, La – The New Orleans Police Department is addressing the language barrier problem for the largest non-English speaking populations in the city by offering Spanish and Vietnamese classes to officers, including those in the K-9 Unit.

“If there’s a language barrier and we can’t communicate with them then that would be the issue because that person may come out inadvertently and get attacked by the dog without a reason,” said New Orleans Police Officer Janssen Valencia who teaches the Spanish classes.

Just knowing the basics, like how to say “stop” can drastically ease a situation.

“If I can give commands in their language for them to step out and go, ‘look, I’m doing a search right now just please don’t move,’ and maybe isolate that person or detain depending on the situation, that person is going to be safe and so are we and that’s the main thing,” said Valencia.

It’s a skill that would be useful in all areas of law enforcement, which is why an entire classroom of officers and SWAT team members are back behind school desks.

Officer Daniel Hauck said he hasn’t taken a Spanish class since his freshman year of college, but the class is helping the language come back to him.

“Everyone realizes that it’s important for us to get this down, and it’s useful,” said Hauck.

To read more of this article courtesy of Fox 8 news, click the link below.


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