4 Reasons to Hire Qualified Medical Interpreters at Your Hospital or Clinic

4 Reasons to Hire Qualified Medical Interpreters at Your Hospital or Clinic

More than 170 languages are spoken in the United States. English is not the first or strongest language for millions of US residents and citizens. This presents numerous barriers to receiving high-quality medical care at American clinics and hospitals. When a language barrier exists between patient and physician, care and safety suffer, leading to miscommunication, inefficient care, and even misdiagnosis and improper treatment.

That’s why partnering with highly qualified, certified medical interpreters is more important than ever. Medical interpreters can reduce physician and hospital liability and improve patient care and safety. Here’s how.

  1. Reduce Physician and Hospital Liability

Without highly qualified and certified medical interpreters, hospitals and physicians are left exposed to medical malpractice lawsuits. Interpreters ensure that doctors accurately and thoroughly diagnose and treat their patients, and that patients thoroughly understand their physicians so they can make informed decisions about their health. Without clear communication, mistakes and miscommunications happen, leaving hospitals and physicians exposed to medical malpractice suits.

The case that best illustrates the need for highly qualified, certified medical interpreters is that of Willie Ramirez. Mr. Ramirez was misdiagnosed following a language confusion surrounding the term “intoxicado” in Spanish. As a result, Mr. Ramirez was left quadriplegic. In the Ramirez family’s lawsuit, the hospital was found responsible for the error and ordered to pay $71 million in damages.

A highly qualified medical interpreter could have prevented the confusion and resulting misdiagnosis and improper treatment of Mr. Ramirez. Unfortunately, more than three decades later, cases like Mr. Ramirez’s continue to happen across the country. Qualified interpreters have the power to change that.

  1. Increase Patient Safety

With every consultation, your patient’s safety is on the line. Without proper training and certification, your interpreter and by extension, you could inadvertently do considerable harm to your patient (consider again the case of Mr. Ramirez). Qualified medical interpreters are a vital part of your patient’s care team and contributes greatly to keeping your patient well-informed and safe.

Would you feel comfortable or qualified to wield a scalpel without years of training or experience? How about developing a treatment plan for a cancer patient? Then why would you rely on a child, family member, or unqualified third party to interpret what you’re saying to your patient?

  1. Improve Quality of Care

Qualified medical interpreters not only improve patient safety, they increase the quality of care patients receive. When a medical interpreter is in the room with a patient, the patient’s chance of being readmitted to the hospital drops. So does the cost and number of tests and procedures ordered for a patient due to miscommunication.

  1. Comply with Laws & Regulations

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin in any program that receives federal funding. This includes hospitals and clinics that accept Medicare and Medicaid, federal grants, and other funding. The Affordable Care Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, national CLAS standards, and Joint Commission standards all require medical clinics and hospitals to provide equal care for all patients. Qualified medical interpreters can help ensure you’re your hospital provides the same level of care to limited English speakers as it does to native English speakers.

Intelligere can help you find and hire highly qualified medical interpreters to incorporate into your patient care protocols. Contact us today for more information.