Category Archives: Medical Interpreters

Summary of HHS’s Proposed Rule on Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities

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New rules concerning Limited English Proficiency  (LEP’s) to be released shortly.

This is the original draft summary courtesy of the Kaiser Family foundation…but sources have confirmed the bill is “forthcoming” and will be “published” shortly

To read more of these new initiatives from the Department of Health —-> click here.

For more information on LEP’s from the Department of Health visit their website —->HHS website on LEP

 

 

59 languages spoken in S. Seattle: Clinic’s diverse midwives help diverse moms –via Seattle Times

Midwife Faisa Farole examines (Stuteville's son) Malcolm Stonehill 

Midwife Faisa Farole examines (Stuteville’s son) Malcolm Stonehill

I was entering the third day of labor when they told me I’d have to have a C-section. I was exhausted and scared, shaking under bright white lights as a team of masked strangers crowded around the bed prepping me for surgery. Other than my husband, the only person whose face seemed kind in that moment was that of my midwife.

I’ve spent the last two months since that day getting to know my new son. While that time with him has been amazing (if sleep-deprived), the experience of bringing him into this world was one of the most intense of my life.

Then I try to imagine how much scarier it would have been if I’d had nurses, doctors and midwives who didn’t speak my language or understand my culture. That’s what Jodilyn Owen and a team of midwives and health professionals are trying to provide at a new clinic in South Seattle.

“A woman who is from Ethiopia sits with an Ethiopian midwife — she doesn’t have to explain herself,” says Owen, midwife and co-founder of the South Seattle Women’s Health Foundation. “That’s a profound form of health care.”

To read more of this article courtesy of The Seattle Times —>click here

Growing demand for medical interpreters in Texas and across US –via Austin American-Statesman

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By Liliana Valenzuela – ¡Ahora Sí!

Imagine having to tell your grandmother that she has cancer when you haven’t assimilated the news yourself. That’s what happened to Mark Villafuerte when he had to interpret between English and Spanish for his ailing grandma, when he was in his twenties.

With the growing number of people who speak Spanish at home — estimated to reach 43.1 million in 2020 in the United States, according to the Census Bureau 2011 projections — there’s more need than ever for professionally-trained medical interpreters, who bridge languages and cultures. In the Austin Independent School District alone, three out of five students are Hispanic (60 percent) and at least 24,000 students speak Spanish at home. Interpreters provide an essential service, and there are various training options locally.

Villafuerte, now 40, is a professional medical interpreter. He turned what had been years of informal training working different jobs in the medical field, plus a one-week intensive program at the University of Texas, into a career. He remembers that prior to this, because he was bilingual, “I would be pulled from one room to another” to communicate between doctors and nurses who only spoke English and patients who only spoke Spanish.

Not too long ago, untrained volunteers and even children were asked to translate sensitive information to patients, without knowing the proper medical terms or really understanding what was going on medically with the person.

“Am I saying this right?,” Villafuerte remembers thinking. “It’s hard for a kid to be responsible for an adult.”

To read more of this article courtesy of the Austin American-Statesman —> click here.

 

How Hospitals Screw You if You Don’t Speak English –via the Daily Beast

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Doctors aren’t doing nearly enough to care for their non-English speaking patients.
I spend a lot of my time harping about the importance of communication in the field of healthcare, whether it’s between primary services and consulting subspecialists, providers and patients, or providers and family members of patients

The times when effective communication between patients and providers is hindered prove especially difficult. If the clinical condition precludes getting an accurate history from a patient, then we can usually rely on the objective data presented to us to come to a conclusion about how best to proceed. We ultimately hope that once we solve the underlying issues, we will in fact be able to talk to our patients and guide their care accordingly.

But what happens when the reason for poor communication is an unfeasible barrier?

2013 census data indicated that there are more than 40 million foreign-born people living in the U.S. Nearly 50 percent of this group have what is known as “limited English proficiency” (LEP), and our health care system repeatedly fails them. Without being able to effectively communicate with patients, a physician’s ability to take an appropriate history and physical becomes severely limited.

Take a patient who is presenting with chest pain. Without language coherence, it becomes difficult to localize and characterize the chest pain. Is it left-sided and sharp or sternal and dull? Did the pain start suddenly or come on gradually? Has this ever happened to the patient before—and if so, did they have a musculoskeletal injury, bad reflux, or a massive heart attack?

Additionally, the subtleties of all associated symptoms become nearly impossible to elicit. Was the chest pain associated with shortness of breath, deep breaths, movement, or none of the above? We can examine our patients and order diagnostic testing without getting an appropriate history, but every single provider will tell you that physical exams and diagnostic tests are useless without a targeted history.

Lower patient satisfaction and poorer health education are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impact of language barriers on quality of health care delivered. And while providers have not been found to necessarily spend more time with non-English speaking patients, a study looking at hospital length of stay found that patients with LEP stayed for 6 percent longer than English-proficient patients.

To read more of this article coutesy of The Daily Beast —->click here

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

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** 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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