A Call for Professional Translators and Interpreters for Non-Native US Speakers


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Video by the Texas Association of Healthcare Interpreters and Translators, Houston, TX

How many times have you been to the emergency room or doctor’s office where people who speak limited English are having difficulty communicating what’s wrong? Have you seen hospitals that do it well?

Last week, Billie Noakes, who writes billiegram blog, guest blogged here, telling the story of a friend of her’s in Florida who saw a deaf interpreter once during a five-day stay. “Lily” was discharged with a bad case of shingles, but people taking care of her did not have a clue, and none of the tests that she went through picked it up. I do not know how widespread the lack of professional translators is in healthcare.

Studies have repeatedly shown that families do not translate accurately, and that professionals, who know medical terms, as well as translation, are needed for quality care and to insure that no medical errors happen. Medical errors due to lack of translators are not easy to tabulate, but they can be avoided by improving access to translators.

Lisa Carter, a professional translator who blogs at Intralingo, sent me this video, and I have been in touch with the translators in Texas who put it together. Billie and Lisa are both participating in WordCount Blogathon 2011.

I interviewed Jorge Ungo, president, Texas Association of Healthcare Interpreters and Translators, Houston, TX, a nonprofit 501 c6 organization. He authorized using it on PatientPOV. Jorge works for a language translation company in Texas.

I hope that this inspires conversation here, on twitter, on Facebook, and with your health care providers. Most importantly, I hope that systems are put in place so that all patients can be understood who go for healthcare.


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This entry was posted in Healthcare reform, interpreters, Listening to patients, medical errors, translation. Bookmark the permalink.
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