The Effect of Language Barrier and Non-professional Interpreters on the Accuracy of Patient-physician Communication in Emergency department
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.
2. Ha JF, Longnecker N. Doctor-patient communication: a review. Ochsner J. 2010;10(1):38-43.
3. Duffy FD, Gordon GH, Whelan G, Cole-Kelly K, Frankel R, Buffone N, et al. Assessing competence in communication and interpersonal skills: the Kalamazoo II report. Acad Med. 2004;79(6):495-507.
4. Meuter RF, Gallois C, Segalowitz NS, Ryder AG, Hocking J. Overcoming language barriers in healthcare: A protocol for investigating safe and effective communication when patients or clinicians use a second language. BMC Health Serv Res. 2015;15:371.
5. Woloshin S, Bickell NA, Schwartz LM, Gany F, Welch HG. Language barriers in medicine in the United States. JAMA. 1995;273(9):724-8.
6. Ngo-Metzger Q, Massagli MP, Clarridge BR, Manocchia M, Davis RB, Iezzoni LI, et al. Linguistic and cultural barriers to care. J Gen Intern Med. 2003;18(1):44-52.
7. Ebden P, Carey OJ, Bhatt A, Harrison B. The bilingual consultation. Lancet. 1988;1(8581):347.
8. Selection of the results of the general census of population and housing [Available from: https://www.amar.org.ir/Portals/0/Files/abstract/1390/sarshomari90_nahaii.pdf.
9. Gany F, Leng J, Shapiro E, Abramson D, Motola I, Shield DC, et al. Patient satisfaction with different interpreting methods: a randomized controlled trial. J Gen Intern Med. 2007;22 Suppl 2:312-8.
10. Flores G, Laws MB, Mayo SJ, Zuckerman B, Abreu M, Medina L, et al. Errors in medical interpretation and their potential clinical consequences in pediatric encounters. Pediatrics. 2003;111(1):6-14.
11. Flores G, Abreu M, Barone CP, Bachur R, Lin H. Errors of medical interpretation and their potential clinical consequences: a comparison of professional versus ad hoc versus no interpreters. Ann Emerg Med. 2012;60(5):545-53.
12. Hampers LC, McNulty JE. Professional interpreters and bilingual physicians in a pediatric emergency department: effect on resource utilization. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002;156(11):1108-13.
This journal be published an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits anyone to copy, redistribute, remix, transmit and adapt the work provided the original work and source is appropriately cited.