Monthly Archives: January 2016

Lost In Translation: How Foreign-Speaking Patients Suffer Without Medical Interpreters –via WBUR

DIAZ RIVERA

** ADVANCE FOR TUESDAY, NOV. 16 ** Medical interpreter Carmen Diaz, right, interprets for Spanish-speaking patient Romualdo Rivera at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Sept. 1, 2004. Temple University is among 10 sites in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Hablamos Juntos program that received grants to hire and train Spanish interpreters. (AP Photo/Bradley C. Bower)

Lost In Translation: How Foreign-Speaking Patients Suffer Without Medical Interpreters

By Dr. David Scales

When I met Mr. Y., he was sitting up in bed, sweating and breathing quickly. An elderly, Russian-speaking man, he was admitted to the cardiology ward at a large hospital where I was working. His blood pressure was dangerously high and he struggled to breathe. His fear was instantly apparent in his wide blue eyes. Panting, he told us that he had liver pain, pointing to just below the ribs on his right side.

It’s unusual for patients to complain about liver pain. In broken English, Mr. Y. explained that it began after starting new blood pressure medications a few months ago. But his chest X-ray told a different story. His lungs were drowning in fluid — the likely reason why he was so out of breath — and that couldn’t have been caused by the medications he was so worried about. Having already perused his laboratory results, his condition seemed like a straightforward case of heart failure, but I quickly realized admitting Mr. Y. would be linguistically and culturally complex.

I needed to understand what made him so short of breath, and why he thought his medications caused the problem. But no in-person interpreter was available for another hour and a half. The telephone interpreting service at this hospital was designed to be accessible — the interpreter can be paged from any hospital telephone and should call back. Yet, no one had called back after my two attempts. I imagined they were busy interpreting for other patients. In the meantime, Mr. Y. continued to pant and sweat, leaning forward in bed to help his breathing.

Reluctantly, I asked his adult daughter if she would interpret for me. She agreed, but was clearly reticent; her hesitance and discomfort apparent as she stumbled over questions about her father’s recent urinary and bowel habits. While I speak no Russian, I became suspicious of misunderstandings when she interpreted my question about previous “heart failure” as “infarkt,” which sounds like a medical term for a heart attack.

I know of studies showing patients suffer when clinicians do not use interpreters or use untrained, informal interpreters like family members. I learned this during medical interpreter training and in my own experience volunteering as an Arabic interpreter with Iraqi refugees in New Haven and Syrian refugees in Jordan. As was the case with Mr. Y.’s daughter, family members may struggle to interpret accurately when family or cultural expectations are upset by medically routine, but personally embarrassing questions.

“Family members may struggle to interpret accurately when family or cultural expectations are upset by medically routine, but personally embarrassing questions.”

I know of studies showing patients suffer when clinicians do not use interpreters or use untrained, informal interpreters like family members. I learned this during medical interpreter training and in my own experience volunteering as an Arabic interpreter with Iraqi refugees in New Haven and Syrian refugees in Jordan. As was the case with Mr. Y.’s daughter, family members may struggle to interpret accurately when family or cultural expectations are upset by medically routine, but personally embarrassing questions.

As a trained interpreter myself, it is painful and frustrating when good interpreter services are not available. But it isn’t just a dearth of interpreters — it’s also a lack of time that presents challenges to providing good care to non-English speakers. If I had a leisurely day I could have waited or returned, but on an adrenaline-fueled day on call, waiting for the interpreter was not possible. I had to balance my limited time with Mr. Y. against preparing for the three other patients I expected to be admitted at any minute. Worried this would be my only chance to hear his story, I put my interpreter training aside.

To read more of this article courtesy of WPR Boston’s NPR—>click here

 

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Does rise of machine translations threaten interpreters? –via ECSN.CN

If, as the Chinese proverb states, “to learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world”, Chinese search engine Baidu has provided the country with a portal that puts the earth at their fingertips.

Earlier this month, the Baidu Translate app was given a top national science award for their work advancing machine translations in a rarely seen honor for internet companies.

“It earned the honor for its technological merit and social significance,” Wang Haifeng, vice president of Baidu, said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

“The Baidu Translate App can recognize text, voices and even pictures. For example, travellers can take a photo of the menu and the App will read the menu and do the translation.”

Wang has led the research team for Baidu Translate over the past six years. He said the software can now translate between 27 languages, currently has 500 million users worldwide and responds to over 100 million translation requirements everyday.

It is often used by online retailers to translate product descriptions, saving them the cost of hiring translators.

And it is expanding quickly, taking them only about 11 days to launch a new language, Wang said.

“We collect bilingual data on the Internet, the computer will then study the data automatically and form translation models accordingly,” he said.

But the rapid development of machine translations has raised concerns that translating jobs may soon be endangered or whether learning a second language will soon be useless.

Zou Tingfang, an interpreter involved in legal work, believes machine translations are unlikely to beat translators in the foreseeable future.

“I resort to software when doing translations, but I never use it when interpreting. Machines still have many limits,” she said. “Language, especially when spoken, is lively and dynamic. Machines cannot handle changes as adequately as human beings. For example, when interpreting, one word can have more than ten meanings depending on the occasion. Machines still cannot precisely distinguish different contexts.”

But machine translations can be accurate for translating languages with fixed context, such as billboards, online games or contracts, she said.

To read more of this article courtesy of ECNS.CN—>click here

 

Medical Interpreters Speak for New American Patients –via Seven Days

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A woman rushes to a hospital after taking her baby’s temperature. In English, she tells the nurse that her child has been crying nonstop and is burning up. She begs to see a doctor. The nurse turns to her colleagues and other patients and speaks in an unidentifiable language, presumably asking if anyone understands English. Most give blank stares. A patient speaks a few words to the mother but backs off when he reaches the limits of his English proficiency. By now, the mother is hysterical and desperate.

That’s the scenario depicted in a public service announcement video from the Texas Association of Healthcare Interpreters & Translators, produced in 2010. It concludes by telling viewers that 8 percent of U.S. citizens, or 25 million Americans, speak limited English. The video clip is one of an array of materials that Lynette Reep, interpreter coordinator at the University of Vermont Medical Center, uses to educate her colleagues about the challenges that deaf patients or those with limited English proficiency (LEP) face when accessing health care.

To drive home her message, Reep also cites famous cases of tragic outcomes that resulted from inadequate language access. One such incident took place in 1980 in South Florida. Eighteen-year-old baseball player Willie Ramirez became quadriplegic after a misunderstanding of a single word led to a misdiagnosis and erroneous treatment. A resultant lawsuit led to a settlement of $71 million.

Reep’s position at UVM Medical Center was created just a year ago; before that, technical training for the clinical staff revolved around use of phone interpreters or an app. “Burlington, historically, is not a community that necessarily had a huge need for interpreting services,” Reep said. “But over the last 20 years or so, we’ve had refugees resettled here.”

According to statistics provided by the medical center, the percentage of LEP patients has risen over the past three years from 1.25 to 1.38 percent. Each week, the medical center receives about 16 requests for ASL interpreters and 200 for spoken-language interpreters. The three languages for which interpretation is most often requested are Nepali, Bosnian and Arabic.

Reep, 55, said it is her mission to “provide language access in the interest of patient safety and to educate the organization as a whole about the link between language access and patient safety.” This means creating a culture in which trained medical interpreters are seen as part of the treatment team.

“It’s really important that patients and providers understand that,” Reep said. Even though the interpreters don’t provide care, she added, “they are the mechanism through which care is being provided.”

To read more of this article courtesy of Seven Days—->click here

In 2016, Health Care Providers are Required to Work with Certified or Qualified Medical Interpreters —OHCIA

OHCIA

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Oregon Health Bill 2419 has been revised for 2016 to include a requirement that health care providers work with certified or qualified health care interpreters whenever possible.

It is important for all health care interpreters to complete the certification and qualification process as soon as possible.

To read more of the Oregon bill with OHCIA—–>click here

Asking For Help In A System That Doesn’t Speak Your Language via BizzFeed

Asking For Help In A System That Doesn’t Speak Your Language

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It isn’t just stigma keeping elderly Asian immigrants from getting mental health care — it’s also the lack of facilities that understand their languages and cultures.

So Ying Chan came to the United States with her husband in 1976 to raise her two grandchildren, Jeff and Jessica Man. The children’s parents worked several jobs and were rarely home. Although she didn’t speak English (and would never learn to), she became fast friends with all the neighborhood Chinese grandmothers. Chan entertained her grandchildren by taking them to all the cheap haunts near Washington, D.C. — the National Zoo, McDonald’s, and the neighborhood grocery store.

Then in 1992, Chan’s husband became ill and died. Without her one real companion in a country that was foreign to her, Chan fell into a deep depression. She told family members repeatedly that she wished she were dead. As the years passed, she developed Alzheimer’s and her behavior grew even more erratic. Her grandson remembers her ambling out to meet his friends whenever they drove up to the house and staring into their car window wordlessly.

The family grew increasingly worried for Chan’s safety. They would come home to find that Chan had left the stove on and forgot, or that she had wandered out into the city and got lost coming home — once, they had to call the police to bring her back. Finally, in order to have someone watch over her, they enrolled her in a nursing home in Gaithersburg, Maryland. That turned out to be a mistake.

To read more of this article courtesy of BuzzFeed —-> click here

 

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