What is the impact of Medical Interpretation on both patient and doctor?

The quality of a doctor-patient relationship has a strong impact on a patient’s life. Patients who feel that they’ve been understood by their doctors are usually more engaged with their health care than those who have not been treated in the same manner. The ability of the healthcare provider and the patient to understand each other is indispensable, especially during medical emergencies; just one misunderstanding can lead to misdiagnosis and irreversible consequences.

The idea of effective communication in medical settings is often taken for granted. However, much more work needs to be done to ensure that LEP patients (Limited English Proficiency) receive the high quality medical care that they need with the help of medical interpretation services.

Twenty-one million Americans are limited in English proficiency (LEP), but little is known about the effect of medical interpretation services on health care quality.

Multiple studies document that quality of care is compromised when LEP patients need but do not get interpreters. LEP patients’ quality of care is inferior, and more interpreter errors occur with untrained ad hoc interpreters. Inadequate medical interpretation services can have serious consequences for patients with mental disorders.

Trained professional interpreters and bilingual health care providers positively affect LEP patients’ satisfaction, quality of care, and outcomes. Evidence suggests that optimal communication, patient satisfaction, and outcomes and the fewest interpreter errors occur when LEP patients have access to trained professional interpreters or bilingual providers.

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Yana Fisher

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