|Health Factors:||Quality of Care|
|Decision Makers:||State Government Federal Government Healthcare Professionals & Advocates Public Health Professionals & Advocates|
|Population Reach:||20-49% of WI's population|
|Impact on Disparities:|
Is this program or policy in use in your community? Tell us about it.
Professionally trained medical interpreters provide interpretation services for limited English proficiency (LEP) patients in outpatient and inpatient health care settings, and sometimes also serve informally as cultural liaisons or patient advocates. Interpreters are taught to interpret spoken words in the correct context via at least 40 hours of training, which often includes on-the-job training and courses in health care interpretation (CCHI). Interpreter services are mandated by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act for LEP patients who receive federal financial assistance. Availability of professional interpreters is limited in most states, often due to budgetary limitations; ad-hoc or telephone interpretation services are often used. Professional interpreters are certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters or the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (Juckett 2014).
There is some evidence that professionally trained medical interpreters improve patient-provider communication (Campbell-Wollscheid 2015, Flores 2005), increase satisfaction (Campbell-Wollscheid 2015, Karliner 2007, Flores 2005, Bagchi 2011, Giordano 2007), and improve health outcomes (Flores 2005, Giordano 2007) for patients with limited English proficiency (LEP). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.
LEP patients who receive interpretation services from professionally trained medical interpreters are more likely to have preventive screenings, fill prescriptions, and successfully manage conditions such as diabetes than patients with ad-hoc interpreters such as family, friends, or health care staff untrained in interpretation (Flores 2005). In two New Jersey emergency departments, patients and providers report higher levels of satisfaction and better communication with trained interpreters than with ad-hoc or telephone interpreters (Bagchi 2011).
Professionally trained medical interpreters have been shown to make fewer clinically significant interpretation errors than untrained interpreters (Flores 2005, Karliner 2007, Flores 2012). Interpreters with 100 or more hours of training are less likely to make errors than interpreters with fewer hours of training (Flores 2012). Professionally trained medical interpreters are associated with improved quality of care for LEP patients (Campbell-Wollscheid 2015, Flores 2005, Karliner 2007, Flores 2012, Rosenberg 2008). Remote, real-time telephone interpretation may also reduce errors and increase patient satisfaction (CWF-Cooper 2004).
A Boston-based study suggests that patients may prefer family members or friends serving as ad-hoc interpreters rather than engaging professionally trained interpreters (Ginde 2010).
Professionally trained medical interpreters are available in many health care settings, especially in non-profit hospitals in large, diverse urban areas (Schiaffino 2014). Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, for example, offers a medical interpreting training program along with cultural responsiveness training (MSKCC-Medical interpreting). The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s international center provides professional medical interpretation services in Arabic, French, Mandarin, Spanish, Russian, Turkish, Vietnamese, and American Sign Language (UTMDACC-International center). The University of California Davis Medical Center’s Department of Interpreting and Translation Services provides in-person, over-the-phone, and video conference interpretation in 18 languages as well as health care interpreter training courses (UCDMC-Interpreting).
The Continuing Education Accreditation Program (CEAP) maintains a database of all professional medical interpretation programs certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI). Programs can be viewed by location, language, cost, and in-person or online training; program costs range from under $100 to $500 (CEAP-CCHI providers).
The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families provides medical interpreter trainings, particularly in the languages of refugees relocating to Wisconsin, through three area vendors and maintains a roster of all trained medical interpreters in the state (WI DCF-Medical interpreter).
* Journal subscription may be required for access.