Quote from mlos
when you utilize the phone-based translators, do you know whether or not they have any clinical knowledge, any more so than housekeeping or dietary staff? no. you put what you have to communicate into the simplest language possible and hope for the best. the same applies even if you & the pt. speak the same native language. there is always room for miscommunication between any two individuals.
actually, the phone-based translators are supposed to be certified medical translators -- it it their job to be able to translate the medical info accuratly.
would be my reservation about using a coworker as a translator -- not hipaa. i agree that the translator is performing a function where they "need to know" whatever information they are translating, so hipaa would not be violated (even if their hospital job is non-clinical).
however, i would
be concerned about accuracy. i worked with a paramedic once who was hispanic. we were taking a spanish-speaking patient to the hospital, and he
was having a tough time trying to figure out how to explain something in spanish. afterall, he learned how to be a paramedic in english, not spanish, and he had lived in the us so long, he was no longer sure what phrases to use. his job was to be able to care for the patient. his job wasn't
to be able to explain the information in spanish. it isn't so much the translation of nouns/verbs/adjectives that are problematic -- it is the translation of idomatic phrases that are the issue. certified medical translators specialize in how to get the information accross, idoms and all.
(and remember, we have to document the translator number when we use the translator phones -- this is why -- "quality control," so to speak, for the information that is being relayed.)