Healthcare News & Insights

On-site, professional interpreters make ERs safer, more effective

Making it easier for non-English speakers to communicate has benefits for everyone in the Emergency department.

When provided with in-person, professional interpreters, patients who have limited-to-no English reported higher satisfaction in communicating with their health care provider. The treating physicians and nurses reported similar satisfaction.

While many hospitals have tried to accommodate patients by training employees in languages commonly seen in their ER — using patient family members to translate or providing phone/headphone-based interpreting services — the study found these all fell short when compared to on-site professional interpreters.

In fact, when patients had access to professional interpreters, patients, doctors and nurses were four times more likely to say they were satisfied with the interaction.

Researchers also found that patients with professional interpreters had shorter stays in the ED and had generally better outcomes.

The study was published in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

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