Monday, March 26

Hospital Language Barriers

When a patient initially arrives at an emergency department suffering from a serious illness, a triage nurse must quickly determine a number of things: his illness level, medical history, allergies, etc.

What if the patient does not speak the same language as the medical staff?

Communication is key in all businesses, however it may be a question of life or death when dealing with hospital consent forms, medications, and medical procedures.This anxiety-provoking scenario plays out routinely in hospitals across the United States.

Offering an interpreter service is key to facilitating communication between the medical staff and patient. It is also a patients right to truly understand and consent to medical treatment.

Everyday I see medical staff relying upon untrained "bilingual" individuals with limited knowledge of medical terminology in either the source or target language. By doing this, they are not only offering poor quality health care, but also jeopardizing the life of their patient.