Miscommunication due to language barriers is a growing health care issue, and technologies to aid interpretation are racing to keep up
By Adam Hoffman
The two-year-old Latina girl arrived at a Massachusetts emergency room in 1999 with intense shoulder pain. “Se pegó, se pegó,” her Spanish-speaking mother cried.
“If you have someone who is limited English proficient who comes in for services, you need to ensure that they have meaningful access to your programs,” says Mara Youdelman, managing attorney at the National Health Law Program in Washington, D.C. “You can’t turn them away because they don’t speak English. You can’t say, ‘Come back next Wednesday when my bilingual staff person is here.’ You can’t make them bring their own interpreters. These patients should have the same access as an English speaking patient does.”
The trouble is that Title VI did not come with associated funding. “There is no requirement that either the federal government or the state pay for the language services in the providers’ offices,” says Youdelman. Read the full article here. »