Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Interpreter Times: The Patient and Their "Comañeros"

My colleague Roig and I started a new interpreters' trade blog, Interpreter Times
An excerpt from my first piece on the new site:
For example, what if a patient is asked by hospital staff where he works and, instead of answering, looks deferentially toward a "compañero del trabajo" who advises him to say he is unemployed? Is this not a sign that the patient's "friend" may have a conflict of interest, violate the patient's confidentiality and compromise his/her care? The interpreter obviously cannot tell the compañero not to accompany the patient to the consultation, but should s/he inform a nurse or physician of the potential problem? Should the interpreter or some other hospital staff be prepared to share information with the patient about his/her rights in this situation?

This may not seem important, but what if the patient's friends informs him that work will only pay for the most basic hospital services or that subsequent visits could get him/her in trouble with immigration? The patient may not come to follow-up appointments or may skip/avoid therapy because the patient cannot afford it him/herself. In this sense, the health care professionals could very well be failing the patient if they allow a representative/friend/compañero from work to be present during all communication with the injured worker.... read more

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