Do patients know what you’re talking about? Especially now, in the scramble to deal with the coronavirus crisis, language access issues can expose patients, interpreters and the broader public to increased risk, according to an analysis in US News and World Report.
In Language Access Issues a Barrier During COVID-19, reporter Gaby Galvin observes, “Roughly 25 million people in the U.S. speak no or limited English, and language access has been a long-simmering problem in medical offices, hospitals and the public health field at large. But in the age of COVID-19, with hospitals in some areas scrambling even to treat patients, sick people don’t always have access to interpreters, and interpreters don’t always have access to crucial protective gear like masks.
“In good times, effective language access is often not the top priority,” says Mara Youdelman, an attorney in Washington, D.C., who works on these issues. “So when you’ve compounded it with all of the stresses on the health care system right now, it just falls lower and lower down the list.”
Sketchy procedures for interpretation can lead to delays and errors in delivering care, plus increased risk not only for interpreters but also the patients with whom they come in contact. Read the complete story here.