Interpreting information from one language to another takes a lot more than just being bilingual. It takes years of learning the profession of interpreting, practicing, and being a part of the culture to fully comprehend its language and become a professional high-quality interpreter.
Who is an Interpreter? How does an Interpreter Work?
An interpreter is someone who is trained to facilitate communication, while also supporting communicative autonomy, between individuals who speak different languages. By interpreting spoken or signed language from one language into another, they make communication effective. Professional interpreters work in various settings, including hospitals, medical clinics, hospice and rehab facilities, social support services, and much more.
To be a professional interpreter, individuals require language proficiency in two or more languages, as a prerequisite. Then comes specialized training on interpreting modalities, in-depth understanding of an applicable Code of Ethics, cultural awareness, and exemplary communication skills. Interpreters must also have a deep understanding of specialized terminology and technical language used in different industries, such as medical terminology, if their goal is to offer interpreting services in healthcare. Professional interpreters are required to interpret accurately and impartially, while preserving the meaning of the original message. Essentially, interpreters are a part of a knowledge-based profession and life-long learners
Advantages of Having Interpreters in Health and Social Care?
More than one-third of all Americans have limited health literacy, which leads to difficulties in navigating the complex U.S. health care system. While LEP patients may be highly educated and familiar with medical terminology in their native language, they are likely to experience difficulties when trying to communicate symptoms and overall gain access to healthcare in a language other than their own.
Whenever language barriers prevent effective communication and understanding from taking place, a professionally trained interpreter is essential in a health or social care setting. This is particularly important in situations where language barriers can lead to misunderstandings, misdiagnoses, and potentially harmful treatment errors. Interpreters’ renditions help to ensure that patients understand the nature of their health issues, including diagnosis, treatment options, and medication dosages or instructions, and that healthcare providers get an accurate understanding of a patient’s symptoms, family medical history, cultural beliefs, and concerns.
If you communicate with limited English proficiency (LEP) patients, you shouldn’t think twice about having a professional interpreter be a part of your triadic healthcare encounters. Here are several reasons why it is important to work with an interpreter and the benefits of doing so:
Interpreters are trained to follow a code of ethics and HIPAA, requiring them to prioritize confidentiality, which is essential in sensitive settings, like healthcare.
Prioritizing a Patient’s Mental Health
While working to improve patients’ physical health, mental health should also be prioritized. Professional interpreters can help reduce the stress, anxiety, and discomfort that often arises from patients not being able to communicate effectively with their healthcare providers. Without crossing their ethical boundaries, interpreters can be supportive by making patients feel more at ease in the presence of their health or social care providers.
Interpreters help to ensure that communication is culturally appropriate. They have a professional understanding of cultural norms and values, that helps to build more of a rapport between patients and providers.
Interpreters can help businesses and organizations avoid miscommunication, misunderstandings, and costly mistakes. The cost of interpreting services pales in comparison to what a medical mistake can amount to. Moreover, interpreting services help in minimizing many other negative outcomes, for instance, they are proven to decrease readmission rates.
If all the above considerations haven’t convinced you that interpreting services should be part of your overall patient communication and patient safety plan, consider this: it’s the law! The use of professional interpreters in a health or social care setting can help maintain compliance with laws and regulations related to language access. According to the Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, all individuals in healthcare programs and activities are protected against discrimination regardless of race, color, national origin (including limited English proficiency and primary language), sex (including pregnancy status, sexual orientation, gender identity), age, and disability.
In hiring an interpreter to facilitate language exchange between individuals from different linguistic backgrounds, it’s essential to work with professionals and not ask friends or family members to accompany the patients. First of all, again, it’s the law and, secondly, failing to communicate effectively with patients will result in missed appointments at best, or misdiagnosis harm, OCR complaints, and legal issues, at worst.
Top-Notch Interpretation Services with Bromberg & Associates
In summary, interpreters play an essential role in health and social care by ensuring that all patients receive top-notch, culturally responsive and appropriate care, by delivering meaningful language access.
If you are in need of highly trained and skilled interpreters in over 200 languages, to help you ensure effective communication with your patients, to improve accuracy, provide access to services for individuals who speak different languages, and break down linguistic and cultural barriers, contact Bromberg & Associates today.