I am a health care provider. Can I ask a patient to bring his/her own interpreter? NO! Federal and state language access laws require health care facilities that receive federal and state funding, and managed health plans to provide no-cost interpretation services, or competent bilingual staff to meet the language needs of the limited English proficient patients.
Can I use family members as interpreters? How about during an emergency? PLEASE DON'T! Using family members as interpreters is strongly discouraged due to limitations in medical terminology and interpretation skills. Medical visits, especially those to the Emergency Room, can be stressful and traumatic. Family members accompanying the patients may suffer stress and trauma associated with the visit that may hinder their ability to interpret accurately and completely. Furthermore, in some incidences, the limited English proficient patients may not feel comfortable disclosing sensitive information, such as drug use or sexual issues, to their family members to interpret for the provider. Family members who act as interpreters may also have the tendency to answer on behalf of the patient, even when these answers are inaccurate or incomplete. There are laws that require hospitals and clinics to provide no-cost face-to-face interpretation services, use competent bilingual staff or provide telephone/video medical interpretation services in acute care situations.
Should children be used as interpreters? NO! Children often do not have the proficiency and training to serve as interpreters. Children are often pulled out of school to interpret for their limited English proficient family members. In many instances, these children are subjected to very sensitive medical information and may feel responsible for the health of their family members. To read a personal story about the trauma suffered by a child-interpreter, please read pages 6-8 of “In the Absence of Words”.
PALS for Health will call you back if we need more information. All information submitted will be kept strictly confidential and will only be used for the purposes of processing your on-line interpretation request.
Is there a fee to use a PALS for Health Interpreter? YES. IN MOST CASES THESE COSTS SHOULD NOT BE CHARGED TO THE PATIENT. If the health care facility receives federal or state funding they are required to provide no-cost interpretation services, or a competent bilingual staff to meet the language needs of the limited English proficient patient.