If you found your way here, you’re likely navigating the sometimes murky world of medical interpreting services. Let’s go over some FAQs that will help provide some guidance.

What are the consequences of not having Medical Interpreting services?

Not using an interpreter can result in several adverse consequences, including:

  1. Miscommunication: Without an interpreter, there is a risk of miscommunication between the patient and healthcare provider, which can lead to misunderstandings about the patient’s medical condition and treatment options. This may lead to improper care, such as inappropriate treatments or prescriptions.
  2. Lack of Trust: Patients who do not understand what is being said to them during a medical appointment may not trust the healthcare provider or the healthcare system as a whole. This can make it difficult for patients to form a relationship with their healthcare provider and to seek out care in the future.
  3. Medical Errors: Without an interpreter, the patient may not understand important instructions related to their care, such as how to take medications, follow a treatment plan, or manage symptoms. This can result in medical errors and adverse outcomes
  4. Legal Issues: In some cases, not providing an interpreter can result in legal liability for the healthcare provider. For example, if a patient is not adequately informed about their medical condition and treatment options and suffers harm as a result, the healthcare provider may be held responsible.

In summary, not using an interpreter can have serious consequences for both the patient and the healthcare provider. It is important for healthcare providers to make arrangements for interpreter services when necessary to ensure that patients receive clear, accurate information about their medical condition and treatment options. Speaking of which…

Who is responsible for making arrangements for Medical Interpreting?

Typically, the healthcare provider (e.g. doctor, nurse, hospital, clinic) is responsible for making arrangements for patients to have an interpreter. This may involve contacting an interpreter service to schedule an interpreter, or having an in-house interpreter available for patient appointments.

In some cases, patients may also make their own arrangements for an interpreter if they have the means to do so. For example, they may bring a family member or friend to serve as an interpreter, or they may arrange for an interpreter service to be present during their appointment. While this may be economical and can work in some cases, relying on amateur interpreters may have unfortunate, unintended consequences. Perhaps in a follow-up article we can discuss some of those pitfalls.

Because circumstances can vary so much, it’s best to have a plan in place. Are you prepared to handle unexpected language needs with On-demand interpreting? Do you have arrangements in place in the event that you need to schedule a qualified interpreter?

Regardless of who makes the arrangements, the goal is to ensure that the patient has access to clear, accurate information about their medical condition and treatment options. This helps to ensure that patients are fully informed about their healthcare and can make informed decisions about their care. But, you may be wondering…

Who pays for Medical Interpreters?

Healthcare providers have a responsibility to ensure that patients have a clear understanding of their medical condition and treatment options. Medical interpreting is a vital component of providing adequate care to non-English speaking patients.

The specific party responsible for paying for these services can vary depending on a number of factors, including:

  • Insurance Coverage: Patients who have private health insurance may have partial or full coverage for medical interpreter services. Insurance companies that provide coverage for these services may also require prior authorization or have specific requirements for the type of interpreter that can be used.
  • Government Programs: Government programs such as Medicaid or Medicare may provide coverage for medical interpreter services for eligible patients. The specific requirements and limitations of these programs can vary by state.
  • Patient Responsibility: In some cases, patients may be responsible for paying for medical interpreter services out-of-pocket. This is often the case for patients who are uninsured or who have insurance plans that don’t cover these services.
  • Healthcare Provider Responsibility: Healthcare providers provide in-house interpreters or pay for interpreting as a part of their patient care services. A cost of doing business and a way for Healthcare Providers to ensure that all patients receive adequate care. Regardless of their language abilities!

Bottom line?

In a healthcare setting, patients who are not provided with interpreter services may face miscommunication, medical errors, and negative outcomes. This can lead to legal implications such as discrimination claims, medical malpractice claims, violations of patient rights, and legal liability. Providing interpreter services helps healthcare providers avoid legal consequences. There have been real-life cases, such as “Molina v. Astrue” and “Estate of Garcia v. Mount Sinai Hospital”, where individuals have filed lawsuits against organizations that failed to provide interpreter services. This highlights the importance of providing interpreter services in a healthcare setting. But, most importantly, it shows that healthcare providers care and are committed to providing the very best care.