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The Interpretator

Another example of why family members should not be used as interpreters in health care

Posted by rpospina on February 16, 2015 at 4:05 PM
This is something that many of us have heard before, especially recently with all the attention brought by new proposals for legal reforms by professionals who have seen the negative impact of this practice.


I have witnesed how serious a miscommunication can be in a health care setting without a proper interpreter, but I couldn't help but be surprised at a whole new level when I learned about this case:


On a routine morning, in a reputable health care facility in the Pensacola area, a female patient of foreign nationality – and who did not speak English – was getting ready for her procedure: a tubal ligation. She had been cleared to have the procedure done in a previous appointment, for which her husband served as an interpreter. The day of the procedure, when the provider was getting ready to obtain a signature for the patient's informed consent, she requested the services of a telephone interpreter, in order to provide the patient specific information about the risks, alternatives to the procedure, etc.


When the provider explained this to the patient, the patient's answer was -“But this is not why I came here, that is against my religion”.  Long story short, the patient was brought to have this procedure done under false pretenses by her husband, who wanted her to be sterilized so that they would not have more children, knowing that the patient would not agree to this, due to her religious beliefs. He had her believe she was getting another gynecological procedure done, and he almost got away with it, had it not been by the physician's due diligence of providing a qualified interpreter. What a great catch and a great lesson to be learned by all of us!

Categories: Interpreting, Over-the-Phone Interpreting, Tips

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