Is Your Hospital Compliant with These Five Language Interpretation Requirements?

Is Your Hospital Compliant with These Five Language Interpretation Requirements?

Deaf-mute female patient visiting young male doctor

The Joint Commission is the primary accrediting organization of US hospitals. Their rules and regulations ensure a high quality of care for patients across the country. The Joint Commission assesses hospitals on their language interpretation services. Here are a few of the items Joint Commission surveyors look for when they evaluate hospitals. Is your hospital in compliance?

  1. Hospitals Must Have a Language Services Policy

The Joint Commission requires hospitals to have a language services policy in place. A facility’s need for language services depends on the population it serves and whether it is located an urban, suburban, or rural area, among other factors. The policy must demonstrate that the hospital understands the professional best practices of language service providers.

  1. Medical Interpreters Must Abide by the Hospital’s Policies and Procedures

The Joint Commission requires interpreters and language service providers to abide by all hospital policies and procedures. Hospitals should audit their contractors to ensure their compliance. If they are found in violation of standards, it could put a hospital’s accreditation at risk.

It may come as a surprise to learn that the Joint Commission does not require medical interpreters to be certified (learn why we always recommend working with a certified interpreter). Partnering with certified medical interpreters ensures contractors understand how HIPAA and other hospital rules and regulations impact their work.

  1. Medical Interpreters Must Be Recognized as an Essential Element of Safe, High-Quality Care

The Joint Commission requires effective communication between hospitals, providers, and their patients. Hospitals must assess each patient’s communication needs and provide aid when needed. The commission identifies effective communication as a patient right and an essential element of safe, high-quality patient care. To ensure effective communication, hospitals may need to offer medical interpretation if a patient is Limited English Proficient. 

  1. Vital Documents Must Be Translated into Commonly Encountered Languages

Translation of essential documents is considered a language service. Joint Commission standards require hospitals to translate any vital documents it shares with patients. A qualified translator must perform the translation to ensure accuracy.

  1. Hospitals Must Offer Medical Interpretation, but Have a Choice in How It Is Delivered

While in-person medical interpreting is often the best choice for patients, it is not always possible to provide this service. Uncommon languages or emergency room cases may make finding a medical interpreter for an onsite visit difficult.

Innovations in interpretation technology make it possible for highly qualified medical interpreters to offer services remotely over the phone or through video conference. These technologies have made it easier for hospitals to provide language services to a wider range of patients. The Joint Commission considers these modalities as components of effective communication.

The Joint Commission has required hospitals to provide language services to patients since 2010. Failing to provide high-quality medical interpretation, translation, and other language services can put a facility’s accreditation at risk.

Intelligere provides certified, high-quality medical interpretation to hospitals, clinics, and other health care settings. Our interpreters offer services in dozens of languages to ensure you communicate effectively with your patients. To include a medical interpreter on your patients’ care teams, contact Intelligere today.