Surgeon halts operation over foreign nurses' poor English - page 3

Zounds! Figured it would come to this ... notice the idiot suits are threatening the Doctor ... suits not at all medically-oriented with concern for standards and safety -- or common sense :o ... Read More

  1. by   MPHkatie
    Interesting post. I agree with the first replier, I do feel sorry for the nurses, who no doubt were doing their dardest to do their jobs. I feel sorry for the Surgeon, and the patient. Seems to me that nurses wanting to work in foreign countries need to be able to function within the parameters of their job- no matter how incorrect politically that may sound.

    I've done some nursing in other countries. I use a translator (except in CA and SA because I speak Spanish very well) In Africa, because there are a jillion dialects, no one seems to expect me to speak anything but English, but I hire and use a translator to get my research and clinic work done without putting the patient at risk. And that translator stays at my side day by day (we get sort of joined at the hip). With all the cultural variables it is often imperative for the translator to explain more than just what is said.

    I've also taught ESL. It typically takes 3-5 years living in the country to actually become fluent in a language (See, I speak Spanish and French, well enough to travel independently, and have long conversations but I am NOT fluent in anything but English). So these foreign nurses have a tough job ahead of them.

    Even though I speak lots of languages, I agree, nurses shouldn't be forced to learn. Their career is that of a Nurse, not a linguist. If a student only goes to class, and doesn't care to use the language, they will never actually learn it anyway.

    Difficulties aside, patients come first. I obviously have some liberal tendencies, but in this case, I think any health care professional needs to really be able to communicate easily with their patients (Or do what I do, hire a 24/7 translator....) Now wouldn't recruitment like that... Yes, I am a highly skilled ICU nurse from xyz, Sure I'll work for you, but I need a qualified medical translator for all my shifts? There is enough errors made without adding a language barrier on top of it.
  2. by   RNanne
    Shay, you are right we will get along just fine. I am as conservative as you are only you say it louder and better. You make me laugh.:chuckle Don't stop. You are so cool.
  3. by   Teshiee
    I can't say I blame this surgeon. If you can't understand english where english is the language spoken on a professional basis I don't care how well trained or educated one may be you shouldn't be working there. No excuses! How in the world he was being racist when he could have been called a butcher if he had proceeded and the patient died because the nurse wasn't proficient in english. When I worked in Med Surg I would have patients complain sometimes because their nurse didn't speak english well and they weren't getting their needs met. If I were to go to China I would learn their language. Why set yourself for problems. if you are going to practice in any country at least learn their language they speak.
  4. by   Cascadians
    Here is another article re a problem with recruiting foreign nurses (domestic too) that we had not thought about ... it shows that perhaps all complications have not been thoroughly considered by the "suits" ... and it shows that the nursing shortage and overall world health are colliding ...

    [ Fair Use: For Educational / Research / Discussion Purposes Only ],00.html
    July 22, 2002, by Anthony Browne, British News

    No one knows how many foreign nurses have HIV

    THE recruitment of health workers from Africa, many of whom have been found to be HIV-positive, has been under review by the Department of Health for more than a year.

    The problem came to light in January 2001 when Wolverhampton University School of Midwifery and Nursing recruited 180 students from sub-Saharan Africa, principally Zimbabwe, and discovered that at least five were HIV-positive. It was decided to treat them then place them in hospital jobs across the country.

    Jane Eminson, the chief executive of the Wolverhampton Health Authority, said at the time in a press conference that they would be valuable NHS employees and posed no danger provided that they were not involved in procedures where there was a risk of patients being exposed to their blood. She said that the African nurses were just some of a number of HIV-positive staff working in the NHS under strict government guidelines.

    The nurses complained that they were victims of racist hysteria. One said: We are being targeted because we are African. There are students here from all over the world. You can get HIV anywhere.

    Gisela Stuart, who was then a Health Minister, backed Wolverhampton Health Authoritys policy of letting HIV-positive nurses stay, saying: Just because someone has HIV doesnt mean they develop Aids. The authority is taking a very responsible attitude.

    The authority admitted that it had no idea how many of the trainee nurses were HIV-positive. The test for HIV was voluntary and, the authority did not know how many had been tested or how many were infected.

    There is no evidence that any patient in Britain has been infected by an HIV-positive healthcare worker. The Department of Health says that guidelines banning HIV-positive staff from working in operating theatres and giving injections prevents any risk. But since hospitals have little idea of which staff are HIV-positive, they cannot be certain of who should be subjected to the restrictions.

    By hiring overseas nurses who require lifelong treatment, the NHS could be adding to its problems rather than solving them. The nurses, recruited to help to relieve staff shortages in the NHS, would need treatment that adds at least 10,000 a year to the cost of employing them.

    As returning to Africa could cost them their lives, they are likely to stay in Britain, probably needing treatment costing the NHS several hundred thousands of pounds. There is also the risk of transmission to sexual partners in Britain.

    After the events at Wolverhampton, the Department of Health reviewed the way in which nursing schools admit overseas student nurses. Since then, there have been periodic expressions of concern about HIV-positive NHS workers.

    At Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust and at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, hundreds of patients were offered blood tests after being exposed to HIV-positive staff who had conducted procedures that involved a risk of transmission.

    Last year the Government was so alarmed by the repeated outbreaks of excessive public concern that it ruled that patients would no longer automatically be told when an HIV-positive worker had performed a risky procedure on them. Each case would be reviewed on its merits, it said.

    But since January 2001 the number of HIV-positive nurses recruited from overseas has increased to the extent that it is not unusual as the Government said, but common. Hospitals across the country are recruiting increasing numbers of nurses from sub-Saharan Africa. Despite accusations of racism, the Africa connection matters because its rates of HIV are higher than anywhere else. The NHS recruits most overseas nurses from the Philippines, but the United Nations rates HIV infection there at less than 0.1 per cent.

    By contrast, the number of nurses drafted from South Africa, where one in five adults has HIV, has increased from 599 in 1998 to 2,114 in 2001. Recruitment from Zimbabwe, where one third of adults are HIV-positive, has risen from 52 in 1998 to 473 last year.

    Botswana is the country most ravaged by Aids, cutting life expectancy to just 27 years. Yet nursing recruits from there have risen 25-fold, from four in 1998 to 100 in 2001.

    The Government has been repeatedly criticised for taking nurses from countries that can ill afford to lose them but it says that they approach the NHS and it does not actively seek them. The Government does not even have estimates for the numbers of HIV-positive nurses it drafts; the Royal College of Nursing says that intakes are low.

    But if nurses have HIV in proportions similar to the general populations they come from, then the NHS recruited 737 HIV-positive nurses from overseas last year of which 727 came from Africa, eight from India, one from Australia and one from America. In contrast, the NHS recruited 14,000 British nurses last year, of which data would suggest 14 to be HIV-positive. Epidemiologists who have examined the figures say that it is a reasonable estimate. It could even be an underestimate.

    Nurses from Africa tend to be women from cities aged 20-30, the peak group in Africa for HIV infection. One study in South Africa showed that half the student nurses in Johannesburg were HIV-positive. If that figure holds for nurses across the country, then Britain last year took about 1,000 HIV-positive nurses from South Africa alone.

    The broad recruitment of HIV-positive nurses from Africa is part of the new pattern of the HIV epidemic in Britain.

    The Times revealed last week that the number of diagnosed HIV cases among African immigrants last year had overtaken those among gay men.Many other countries such as America and Australia, require HIV tests before people are allowed to immigrate. Canada began insisting on HIV tests for immigrants this year. Britain is planning the same for medical staff hired by the NHS.
  5. by   RNanne
    Teshiee----Thanks for such an interesting article. Something that I never never would have thought of. This nursing shortage is getting curiouser and curiouser as Alice would say! Ominous indeed. What next.
  6. by   Robin61970
    Okay if I get flamed so be it........I am not prejudice.....never have been and never will be, BUT if you live in the United States I believe you need to speak the language. People who come to live here come here by choice. It is not my choice that my child is being taught spanish in his class at school because 1/3 to a 1/2 of it speaks spanish. It is good for him to learn, bu that is not the point........the children and parents would come in for a teachers conference and the child would have to translate for the parent......I plan on taking spanish because of the language barrier and treatment of patients, but I can see this problem and my belief is once again........they chose to come here.....they should speak English. If I went to live in a foreign place they would expect me to learn their language......why is it different here?
  7. by   RNanne
    Robin, we discussed this subject thoroughly on another board, and surprisingly enough a lot of nurses think just like you do. If you live here, for goodness sake speak the language. I took care of a patient in Calf. once who had been here for 25 years and she still did not speak English. And there are schools everywhere in Calf that teach Spanish to English. I want to be able to speak to my patients and care for them the best that I can, but it should be my choice whether or not I take a foreign language. I just don't think that I should be mandated to take it. There aren't enough nurses now and they just keep raising the bar so that no one will be in the nursing programs. Do other professions have a foreign language mandated? No just nurses. More and more heaped on our dear little backs. What about liability if we get something wrong in trying to speak a language to a patient and creating a problem?? Our hosp. has tons of translators available.

    And I don't think anyone should be flamed for having their own opinions about something. That would not make an honest discussion.
  8. by   CRNI
    I'm in total agreement with you. This is America, our language is English. If you wish to live and work here, learn it. Especially if you work in the healthcare industry. I plan to spend part of my retirement years in the south of France. Am I learning to speak French fluently? OF COURSE I AM. I will learn French as a courtesy to their culture. IMO that is being polictically correct.
  9. by   shay
    RNAnne, CRNI, y'all give me faith.
  10. by   MollyMo
    I don't mind learning Spanish or any other language. I enjoy learning foreign languages. What I don't appreciate is feeling as if I'm being forced into it, that my job or my pay is dependent upon it. I even had a woman call me lazy because I don't speak Spanish. Another asked me why I was working in Arizona if I couldn't speak Spanish. I told her that the last time I looked Arizona was still part of the United States, and the national language is still English. Then I asked her why did she come here and can't speak English. I speak enough Spanish to get by. I'm just not fluent.
  11. by   RNanne
    Shay, chin up. There are a lot of us around!:roll :roll :roll Thanks for the support. I just state my own opinions.
  12. by   fab4fan
    Speaking of getting picky...I had a pt refuse to let me translate because I am not Hispanic. Didn't matter to him that I was fluent...I was not of Hispanic origin, so I wasn't good enough.
  13. by   RNanne
    What is that??? Reverse prejudice. How utterly unpc of them.
    Last edit by RNanne on Jul 23, '02