Why Language is Important in the Healthcare Setting (Part 2)

What facilities can do to ensure proper language interpreting is available for non-English speaking and Limited English Proficient patients with the use of a professional medical interpreter.

To ensure hospitals are setting up all patients, regarding of English-speaking ability, for positive health outcomes, it is essential that they provide professional medical interpreting for non-English speaking and Limited English Proficient (LEP) patients. Why? Because it’s the law.


Title VI and the Affordable Care Act

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) both state that any providers who received federal funding (including Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health programs) legally must provide professional medical interpreters for both non-English speaking and LEP patients.

As of 2016, Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act states that “providers must use qualified medical interpreters when treating LEP patients.”

In addition to Title VI and the Affordable Care Act, there are also language access laws in effect in all 50 states. Healthcare professionals must additionally familiarize themselves with their state’s specific language access laws to avoid legal action.


The Need for a Professional Medical Interpreter

To guarantee non-English speaking and LEP patients receive the medical interpreter services they require is to have a professional medical interpreter present during their visit. What do we mean by a “professional medical interpreter”? A professional medical interpreter is someone who has been trained in interpreting for the medical industry.

With in-depth knowledge of both the necessary medical terminology, as well as the culture of the language in which they are interpreting, a professional medical interpreter can bridge the cultural and language divide. As we discussed in Part 1 of our series, unqualified interpreters (i.e. staff who speak the patient’s language, or friends and family members of the patient) face numerous difficulties in providing accurate medical interpretations.


Bridging the Cultural Divide

A professional medical interpreter can also properly handle the issues of cultural taboos. The process of communicating medical information while respecting cultural norms is a delicate balance, and one that requires a trained professional. It is for this very reason that a medical provider’s best approach to overcoming a language barrier is to enlist the aid of a professional language service company.

For hospitals and healthcare providers, locating and hiring experienced interpreters can be an arduous task. But when you work with a language services company, like Metaphrasis, the difficult work of screening and scheduling interpreters is done for you. Our medical interpreters are fully vetted and adhere to medical regulatory compliance. We offer a range of services to meet your needs, which include on-site and remote interpreting.


Whether you decide to seek on-site interpretation with in-person interpreters with a professional medical interpreter, or utilize remote interpreting, Metaphrasis is here to help. Let’s Get in Touch!