Interpreter services

Yu Feng Yvonne Chan, Kumar Alagappan, Saadiyah Bilal, Jan Hargrave, Suzanne Bentley, Marcus L. Martin

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Emergency Department (ED) physicians are routinely confronted with problems associated with language barriers. It is important for emergency health care providers and the health system to strive for cultural competency when communicating with members of an increasingly diverse society. Solutions include professional interpretation, telephone interpretation, the use of bilingual staff members, the use of ad hoc interpreters, and more recently the use of mobile computer technology at the bedside. Each method carries a specific set of advantages and disadvantages. Although professionally trained medical interpreters offer improved communication, better patient care, and overall cost savings, they are underutilized due to their perceived inefficiency. Ultimately, the solution will vary for every ED depending on the population served and available resources. For some patients, a qualified interpreter is simply not available due to institutional practices or the rarity of the patient’s particular language. Furthermore, the best translation modality may vary depending on the patients’ characteristics and preferences (age, socioeconomic status, comfort level with technology, etc.) Accessibility of the multiple interpretation options outlined above and solid support and commitment from hospital institutions are necessary to provide proper and culturally competent care for patients. Appropriate communications inclusive of interpreter services are essential for culturally competent provider/health systems and overall improved patient care.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationDiversity and Inclusion in Quality Patient Care
    PublisherSpringer International Publishing
    Number of pages13
    ISBN (Electronic)9783319228402
    ISBN (Print)9783319228396
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


    • Ad hoc interpreters
    • American sign language
    • Computer-assisted services
    • Deaf
    • Gestures
    • Language barrier
    • Limited english proficiency
    • Mobile computer technology
    • Nonverbal communication
    • Preventative health services
    • Professional interpreters
    • Telephone interpreters

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine(all)


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