Approximately 66 million residents age five and up in the United States don’t speak English at home. While many of them may also speak English, a significant portion either isn’t comfortable with English – having only limited proficiency – or don’t speak it at all.
In settings where a high level of understanding is necessary, making interpreters available becomes essential. One prime example is inpatient healthcare environments. In that setting, access to an interpreter provides a wide range of benefits. If you’re wondering exactly what kind of a difference it can make, here’s a look at five benefits of providing an interpreter for inpatients.
5 Benefits of Providing an Interpreter for Inpatients
1. Remaining Compliant
For many healthcare providers, ensuring interpreters are available is legally mandated. Regardless of whether they’re providing inpatient or outpatient care, making language services available is a requirement under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for all organizations receiving federal funding. That includes payments from Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP.
Additionally, even healthcare providers who don’t receive federal funding may be required to make language services available. Some states have laws that cover every organization operating in the industry, including those that aren’t receiving federal funding.
Not complying with language services requirements has consequences, both legally and civilly. By ensuring interpreters are available, you avoid any potential issues.
2. Improved Adherence and Outcomes
Inpatients can’t follow instructions regarding their care if they don’t understand them. By providing access to an interpreter, adherence to medical treatments improves. Inpatients know what they need to do and why. As a result, they’re more likely to follow the outlined strategy for their care.
In turn, the improved adherence leads to better outcomes. Since they’re following the treatment plan, they’re doing what it takes to heal, decreasing the odds of adverse events that could hinder their progress or lead to long-term consequences.
3. Eliminating Bias
When an interpreter isn’t provided, many limited English proficiency inpatients turn to family members or friends who speak English to assist with communication. The issue is a family member or friend isn’t a neutral party. This can lead to emotional bias during conversations, causing the ad hoc interpreter to adjust the core message in an attempt to spare the inpatient’s feelings, for their own gain, or for other reasons.
By providing a professional interpreter, you’re turning to a neutral party. This ensures that information is shared accurately across the board.
4. Reduce Risk
Professional interpreters can reduce overall risk when they’re used as part of a broader inpatient care strategy. Certified medical interpreters have healthcare-related expertise, increasing their familiarity with complex terms often encountered in healthcare environments. Plus, they’re well-versed in both English and the other language, allowing them to ask the right questions and adjust their approach to ensure the core message of what’s being conveyed is accurate and complete.
As a result, a medical interpreter can reduce the risk in several ways. This includes making misdiagnoses less likely, as well as ensuring that there are no issues regarding informed consent. Along with increasing the quality of patient care, this makes lawsuits less likely.
5. Increased Patient Satisfaction
When you make language services available, patient satisfaction rises. Every inpatient feels respected and valued, as you’re doing your part to ensure they’re understanding. Essentially, you’re making quality communication a priority, and that’s something any patient would appreciate.
Plus, inpatients will have an easier time ensuring their concerns are heard, and questions are answered. This makes complex medical procedures less intimidating than if they weren’t able to get a solid grip on what was occurring, why various treatments were needed, and how medical procedures would impact them in the short and long term. In the end, that makes the experience less scary, and that can matter.
Do You Need a Medical Interpreter for Inpatients?
Ensuring access to a skilled medical interpreter provides healthcare organizations and inpatients with numerous benefits. Along with improving patient outcomes and satisfaction, experienced language services providers can help reduce risk and ensure compliance, all while eliminating potential bias from the equation.
At Acutrans, our medical interpreters complete comprehensive training programs and are HIPAA-compliant. Additionally, our medical interpretation team is well-versed in medical terminology, healthcare information, and patient confidentiality best practices, making them a valuable resource.
If you require reliable medical interpretation services, Acutrans can help. Acutrans provides on-site, video remote, and over-the-phone services in more than 200 languages. Plus, Acutrans can provide certified, notarized medical translations, allowing you to provide clear and accurate information, discharge instructions, and more in the language your patient prefers.
If you need an interpreter or translator, the Acutrans team can offer a dependable, professional solution. Contact us for a free quote today.