Nowadays, it is very common to hear about interpretation services offered within hospital environments or in situations that have to do with health or medical consultations. This is due to the fact that, often times, people from country “X” who go to a hospital are foreigners who do not have sufficient knowledge of the language to adequately communicate with the doctors. The United States is one of the clearest examples of this, as it continues to be one of the countries with the highest immigration rate in the world. Many of these immigrants have limited English language proficiency, which presents challenges for the delivery of health care across the country.
There are a variety of language services for these situations. However, the fact that these services may be inadequately performed by professionals who are not prepared or who do not have the necessary qualifications can affect both one’s access to health care as well as its quality. Even more importantly, it can have serious consequences for people’s health. Not surprisingly, the recent influx of immigrants to the United States has resulted in a growing demand for language services that are appropriate and effective.
It is of utmost importance for residents who have a limited ability in a certain language to be able to communicate with their health care providers. Studies have shown that language barriers can negatively affect the quality of care in these cases. It is for this reason that different types of programs were created to provide this service, as were non-profit organizations dedicated to helping people in these situations. However, sometimes concerns arise with regard to the over-reliance on free services from public and private agencies whose interpreters are not trained in the ethics of interpretation or medical interpretation, and who may lack the knowledge of specific terminology that such interpretations require.
May alliances exist in order to provide interpretations, as well as health care providers that include it. The interpreter may work either via telephone from an office, in a hospital, or in the patient’s home; these interpreters are often hired by the medical services provider directly. The objective of these programs and projects is to improve communication between medical staff and patients who do not have sufficient knowledge of the local language by assigning interpreters. Thanks to this, many more people obtain access to a doctor who can help treat their illness or give them an accurate diagnosis of any bodily discomfort.