The consequences of misinterpreting or misleading a Hispanic patient or their family can lead to incorrect health care or even possible lawsuits. Some hospitals and clinics think that an easy “fix” to a language barrier is to simply use an interpreter to assist Spanish Speaking patients.
Common Healthcare Mistake #2
“We have interpreters, so the rest of the staff doesn’t need to know Spanish.”
Interpreters can be very useful in the healthcare field for communication and liability purposes. However, many times they aren’t readily available when the Hispanic patient comes in for their appointment.
The patients and their families often must rely on the second best thing: anyone in the building who can interpret for them. This is often someone from the janitorial staff or a family member. This can be especially unnerving for the janitor who is not being compensated for his work, as well as the patient who must settle for a barely adequate interpretation.
Studies have shown that some Spanish-speakers will not even use their healthcare facilities for this reason.
- The staff at the healthcare facilities can be empowered to “get by” when an interpreter is not available, and they can learn the skills to help the patient and their family feel much more comfortable.
- It only takes a few hours of precise cultural and interpretation training to get healthcare staff ready to effectively communicate with Spanish-speaking patients and families.