HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Interpreters Lower Risk in Hospitals

The Associated Press reports that a program currently underway at Temple University, and nine other universities, aims to increase the number of highly trained interpreters in America’s hospitals.  A recent study found that, although hospitals receiving federal funding are required to provide interpretation services, fewer than ¼ of all hospitals had professional interpreters on staff.

In another small study, interpretation errors occurred on an average of 31 times during each of the 13 recorded doctor visits.  About 22 percent of patients using untrained interpreters, such as family members or friends, had interpretation errors of potentially serious medical consequence, compared with 12 percent for those with a staff interpreter.

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