The Effect of Language Barrier and Non-professional Interpreters on the Accuracy of Patient-physician Communication in Emergency department

  • Ali Labaf Department of Emergency Medicine, Imam Khomeini Hospital Complex, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4449-2479
  • Amir Shahvaraninasab Department of Emergency Medicine, Imam Reza Hospital, AJA University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
  • Hamidreza Baradaran Endocrine Research Center, Institute of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5070-5864
  • Javad Seyedhosseini Department of Emergency Medicine, Shariati Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9131-9732
  • Amirhosein Jahanshir Department of Emergency Medicine, Shariati Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0449-4314
Keywords: Communication Barriers, Communication Disorders, Cornell Medical Index, Emergency Medicine

Abstract

Introduction: Patients’ relatives commonly play the role of interpreters in medical interviews. These non-professional interpreters are prone to potentially-dangerous translation errors. Objective: The present study was conducted to evaluate these errors in the emergency department (ED). Method: Twenty interviews with Azeri patients were recorded. They were unable of speaking Persian and therefore accompanied by a relative as a Persian interpreter. These records were presented to two physicians as native Azeri speakers to determine the clinical importance of the interpreters' errors according to their medical expertise. Results: The total omission and addition errors observed in Azeri to Persian translation were significantly more than in Persian to Azeri translation, while mistranslation errors were almost the same. The relatives with higher levels of education made fewer errors, and those living with the patients made significantly more addition errors. Conclusion: Non-professional interpreters cannot effectively facilitate patient-physician communication, as their translation is error-prone, especially in terms of translating their native language into official languages. These errors can have important clinical ramifications.

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Published
2019-06-02
How to Cite
Labaf, A., Shahvaraninasab, A., Baradaran, H., Seyedhosseini, J., & Jahanshir, A. (2019). The Effect of Language Barrier and Non-professional Interpreters on the Accuracy of Patient-physician Communication in Emergency department. Advanced Journal of Emergency Medicine, 3(4), e38. https://doi.org/10.22114/ajem.v0i0.123
Section
Original article

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