There is no question that working in the healthcare field has its share of challenges. There are a lot of demands and the hours are often irregular. Moreover, perhaps one challenge you have not considered, would be all of the unique individuals you might encounter. Even if you are a people person, this can be a difficult proposition simply because not everyone has the same background as you. For instance, how would you handle a situation where you encounter someone who does not speak English as their first language? If you are bilingual, this may not necessarily be a problem. However, if you do not have bilingual staff, you should strongly consider the usefulness of an interpretation service. Here is why:
It Might Be Required by Law
In the majority of most states, having an interpreter in a healthcare setting is a legal requirement. Before the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (otherwise known as “Obamacare”), the interpreter simply needed to be “competent.” In other words, if an emergency situation occurred with a Limited-English Proficient patient, all your healthcare team will find someone that is bilingual in that language. However, since then the requirements have changed. After the passage of ACA, it is required that interpreters be “qualified”, per section 1557.
It Improves Patient-Physician Communication
When it comes to the relationship between patients and physicians, proper communication is always crucial. Additionally, it isn’t enough to just have interpreters in the language that is the most prevalent in the given region. You see, a lot of healthcare providers forget that sign language is a means of communication as well. Sign language is a foreign language in and of itself, and so having an interpreter who is familiar with both sign language and medical terminology is critical to successfully exchange information between parties involved.
It Reduces Your Risk of Liability
If there is a language barrier between the reporting physician and the patient, it can lead to all sorts of problems. One of the biggest issues would be a misdiagnosis, but a language barrier can also include such things as an inability to follow treatment plans or not getting adequate informed consent. However, all of these issues can be mitigated with the inclusion of a qualified language interpreter available on the medical staff.
When you are building your medical staff for the first time, make sure that you never gloss over the importance of having qualified language interpreters for all of your potential patients. It could literally make the difference between life and death.
Interpreters aren’t the only crucial positions to be filled in your healthcare office. Here are three more essential players you will need in your practice.