Skip to main content

Ethics for Health Care Interpreters

In addition to all of the discussion of journalistic ethics that the News of the World scandal has provoked, I have also been interested recently in ethics for interpreting, particularly in the field of health care.

I am beginning some part-time medical interpreting and have had to read standards and ethics for medical interpreters. In the United States there is a National Council on Interpreting in Health Care that establishes standards, ethics, and certification for health care interpreters. Certification is not necessary, just as there is no "official," required certification for translators in the U.S., only unofficial certifying organizations such as the American Translators Association, which [ALERT: unproven assertion] usually offer dubious value while requiring a lot of time and money.

What these professional societies are useful for is networking with others in the field and providing good discussion of standards of practice. The NCIHC has at least two such documents that I have recently read, their Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

As with journalism and academics, I am finding that these standards and ethics are usually common sense (accuracy, confidentiality, impartiality, professionalism). But I suppose that everyone needs to be reminded occasionally so we don't have more scandals. (And health care is a highly litigious, regulated, danger-fraught field.)

Comments

  1. As a cardiac nurse in a large teaching hospital, let me say that the work of translators is extremely important. It is vital that patients be informed at every step so that they can give informed consent to any procedures. I have seen cases where the only interpreter available was a 12 year old child or a personal friend. These are not ideal situations. It may not be appropriate for a 12 year old boy to be translating about a procedure for a 40 year old woman. Even in the case of a friend translating, the translator may not be fully grasping the concepts or accurately translating, or the patient may not want the friend to know the details of his or her treatment.

    Our hospital now contracts with a translating service that can be called at any hour and will have a translator for any language. We have a special phone that has two handsets, so that the medical person and the patient are both on the line throughout the conversation as the translator translates. This has been a huge relief for me as a healthcare provider. Of course, even with this system, the patient needs to know that their personal diagnosis and treatment will be kept confidential, hence the need for a code of ethics.

    That is all to say kudos to you for offering your translating services!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Charles,

    That's fascinating to hear from the perspective of a nurse. In my situation, there is a hospital policy that family members and friends may not interpret. I have not had it happen to me, but colleagues tell me it can be very awkward trying to tell family members (esp. adults) that only the approved interpreter is allowed to interpret. I think it's a good policy though, because as you say family may not get it right, and patients may not want friends to know everything, whereas as paid interpreters we are obligated to maintain complete privacy and confidentiality with the patient and provider.

    Thanks for the input.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Movie Review: A Better Life - Part 2

This is the second part of a two-part review of A Better Life. The first part dealt more with the background issue of illegal immigration, whereas this part focuses more on the movie itself.

In the movie, neither the undocumented immigrants (representative of all the undocumented, but particularly those with upright motives) nor the police (representative of the legal system, including courts, prisons, and immigration) is entirely at fault. Both are stuck in an imperfect, human system.

The viewer is led to sympathize with the undocumented man, an honest landscaper who wants nothing but to work hard so that his one son can have a better life. He’s away from home; his wife left him when his son was little; he has next to nothing; when he does acquire something (a lawn business and pickup with equipment) it gets stolen from him. And yet, the movie does not excuse what he does wrong nor does it try to show him as a man victimized and ruined by the consequences of his actions.

Apart fr…

教会に影響を与えるために神様が用いる人々の九つの特徴

Read this in English.

これらの9つの特性は、アンドルーボナーから来る。説教でそれらを議論する私の牧師を聞きながら、コピーしたので、ボナーの何本から来たのは覚えていません。これらはクリスチャンに対してとても大事の本質ではないでしょうか。

教会に影響を与えるために神様が用いる人々は次の特徴がある...

1.まじめな人
2.成功を目標する人
3.信仰を持つ人
4.勤勉な人
5.忍耐強い人
6.大胆な人
7.祈る人
8.強力な教義の人
9.深くに清新な人

黒澤監督の『隠し砦の三悪人』

今週初めて黒澤明の『隠し砦の三悪人』という映画を見ました。この三悪人とは、だれですか? 三船敏郎が演じる真壁六郎太(まかべろくたろう)と二人の百姓です。この3人の登場人物の関係はとても面白くて、全ての人間の弱さも愛される性質も示します。

最後の場面で、二人の百姓、太平(千秋実)と又七(藤原釜足)、姫と真壁からもらった金1枚をどうやって分けるかと黙っていて、太平は又七に任そうとしていても又七は断ります。いつもケンカしているこの二人は、後で再びケンカしてしまうと思われますけれども、取りあえずまた仲良くなって幸いです。