¡Necesito un medico!, but No One Speaks Spanish: A Look at Medical Interpretation Policy
thesisposted on 16.12.2016, 00:00 by Caitlyn Edwards
The U.S. has a large, continually growing, limited English proficiency (LEP) population. This challenges healthcare providers by requiring interpretative services in order to provide any medical care. While utilizing friends, family, or uncertified bilingual employees or volunteers can be a convenient option for providing medical interpretation, it is not always the best option legally and medically. Certified medical in-person interpretation is the ideal method for interfacing with the LEP population, but it is not always viable due to a lack of availability and increased cost. Remote methods can reach additional areas, where in-person might not be available. However, current policies are not sufficient to fulfill the demand for certified medical interpretation. A brief literature review of federal and state interpretation policies was completed, and four medical clinics in Wyoming were interviewed regarding their current policies and practices. Current policy is either not enforced or too ambiguous in many locales, including Wyoming. This lack of definitive policy can negatively impact medical care for the LEP population. Enforcing and broadening existing policies to make them more encompassing or utilizing new, innovative ideas such as interpretation through video conference or utilizing students as interpreters can improve access and use of certified medical interpreters, which in turn improves healthcare and long-term outcomes for LEP patients.