Language barrier question

  1. Has anyone run across a situation where the patient is disoriented secondary to dementia and the caregiver(s) speak no English? Was the patient admitted?

    I am dealing with just such a situation. No one in my agency speaks the language of the caregiver. The patient is a diabetic new to insulin. The wife is elderly and speaks only Polish. How on earth am I to teach safe insulin use, use of the sliding scale, diet, etc.? I called the physician to explain the situation. I won't even attempt it. It's just not safe. Should we not have admitted this patient?
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   NRSKarenRN
    All agencies are responsible for having interpreter services per Medicare/JCAHO. We run into similar situations almost weekly with 1600 admits/month.

    We have about 23 languages in our service territory and use AT+T language line. Agency pays fee to set up then per use cost:
    http://www.languageline.com/

    You dial in code number tell interpreter info, hand phone to family/patient and they translate.
  4. by   prmenrs
    Our hospital just installed Cyracom phones in all the moms' rooms, and the nursery has 2 of them as well. http://www.cyracom.com/Default.aspx?PageId=3 This company specializes in medical translation and has many languages from which to select. http://www.cyracom.com/Default.aspx?PageId=750 I think they have an MD on call as well as back-up.

    For home care, the nurse could carry a phone w/her, it plugs into any phone jack.

    If you use a service, be sure you document the translator's ID # on the chart.
    Last edit by prmenrs on Nov 20, '07
  5. by   wonderbee
    We never stop learning. This is a golden nugget of knowledge. My agency is having the visiting nurse d/c the patient today despite the fact there has been no learning and, therefore, no service. I shared the information about the AT&T language line with her and urged her not to D/C. As long as this agency practices in this fashion, they will never compete with the big boys.
  6. by   jnette
    Quote from RNKittyKat
    We never stop learning. This is a golden nugget of knowledge. My agency is having the visiting nurse d/c the patient today despite the fact there has been no learning and, therefore, no service. I shared the information about the AT&T language line with her and urged her not to D/C. As long as this agency practices in this fashion, they will never compete with the big boys.
    That really IS great info! I'll have to pass this along as well. Don't think we have any translaters currently.. at ALL. In my area, there's really not too much need for one, BUT... ya never know!!!

    Thanx Karen ! You are such a wealth of knowlege!!!
  7. by   NRSKarenRN
    Twenty two years in homecare and I'm still learning something new every day.
  8. by   caliotter3
    Good info in this post. I've run into language barrier problems more than once and managed to pull though. It wasn't very easy. Luck more than anything else. I don't see my current agencies paying for any of these services at this point though.

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