US: Hospitals Turning to Medical Interpreter Hotlines


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Hospitals Turning to Medical Interpreter Hotlines

US hospitals are increasingly turning to medical interpreter hot lines to help supplement their in-house interpreters and aid non-English speakers in understanding diagnoses and treatment plans. At Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas, demand for interpreting services has surged 40 percent over the past two years. In response, the hospital has installed tele-interpreting phones in every patient's room. Jonathan Hirsch with New Jersey's Holy Name Hospital says his facility also employs video interpreters who can use a patient's facial cues and body language to capture communication subtleties. The US Census Bureau estimates that approximately 24 million people older than five have little to no English skills, raising the likelihood that they will require language services when they become ill. Throughout the US, hospital emergency rooms have reported language difficulties leading to incidents of misdiagnosis and severe consequences. Despite advances such as video and phone medical interpreting services, experts note that language problems persist at many hospitals and clinics. Pediatrics Professor Glenn Flores says the last 10 years have seen little progress in improving access to language services partly because of the expense involved.

From "Hospitals Turning to Medical Interpreter Hot Lines"
Associated Press (NY) (03/16/10) Garay, Anabelle; Ball, Linda Stewart

Source: ATA Newsbriefs - March 2010
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