Problems with interpreters in Healthcare – A Complete Guide

Problems with interpreters in healthcare are common because of the lack of access to professionals and qualified interpreting services providers. Regardless of the directives to protect patients’ rights, healthcare interpretation, and translation services are still not as widespread as required.


Likewise, the implementation of these services mandates has been insufficient across the country, especially in rural and remote areas.

Problems with interpreters in Healthcare. Importance, Affects, Laws, And Ethics:

Here we’ve discussed the problems with interpreters in healthcare, laws, regulations, ethical issues, and benefits regarding interpretation in healthcare sectors below. So, check out this post till the end to get more insight on this topic.

1. Problems with Interpreters in Healthcare:

Problems with interpreters in healthcare arise due to a lack of access to professionals and qualified services providers. Moreover, hospitals face budget and time limitations, which prevent them from recruiting full-time interpreters in their health are a team. Additionally, the availability of proficient interpreters in minor or lesser-known languages is deficient.

Problems with Interpreters in Healthcare

They are opposed to the popular belief that being a professional healthcare interpreter is not as simple as only skilled in both languages. It is prohibited from interpreting from children, family, and friends to supports patients unless it’s an emergency by the Affordable Care Act.

Furthermore, this regulation has only made it more challenging for hospitals to provide language services to their patients. Before medical interpreters can work in a healthcare setting, they must go through a certification process. Moreover, there are two national certification boards that test the qualification and proficiency of medical interpreters.

Likewise, both certification boards require ability in not only the language but also medical terminology. Although this process improves efficiency across the board, it also creates a scarcity of qualified in-house interpreters in healthcare. Moreover, check out another relevant blog post on Medical Interpreter duties and responsibilities -2021 guide.

2. Why is it Essential to minimize the problems with interpreters in healthcare?

The US Census Bureau reported that there are more than 350 languages spoken in the United States alone. Moreover, the Census Bureau has no quantifiable way of measuring language skills. Over 25 million people surveyed told the Bureau that they speak English “less than well.”

Why Are Interpreters In Healthcare Service Essential

The demand for interpretation services is higher than ever before, as so many languages are spoken across the nation.  Moreover, the healthcare sector can benefit more from interpretation services than any other industry. Hospitals serve various patients, and even in rural communities, those who often visit for healthcare services have limited English proficiency.

Unfortunately, ill-equipped hospitals for those patients are unable to provide the level of care they deserve. Typically doctors and nurses speak in English, which creates a language barrier for patients who speak different languages. Thus communication gap arises that could adversely affect a patient’s medical care. So,  it is essential to minimize the problems with interpreters in Healthcare arises.

3. How do problems with interpreters in healthcare Affect treatment?

There’s no doubt that non-English speakers face a more challenging time in medical settings. The language barriers prevent patients from communicating efficiently with their physicians. Moreover, it happens in both cases of emergencies and primary healthcare visits. Let’s check out those problems with interpreters in healthcare  and what this can lead to:

How do Language Barriers Affect Healthcare

i) This can cause a higher risk of health care mistakes.

ii) As a result healthcare team faces difficulties going over the medical history of the patients.

iii) It leads to poor comprehension of the problem at hand regarding the diagnosis.

iv) It creates a massive problem regarding the issues with informed consent and documentation.

Eventually, all these problems due to language barriers can make healthcare professionals more problematic to provide appropriate care. Furthermore, the mentioned language barriers create a stressful patient-physician interaction and often lead to higher dissatisfaction among non-English speakers.

Lack of a proper hospital language interpretation program, non-English speakers’ patients are affected at each stage of the treatment process. As we know, informed consent is one of the pillars of the modern healthcare system. Patients have the right to get valuable information about their health conditions.

Thus,  problems with interpreters in Healthcare arises.

4. Consequence of problems with interpreters in healthcare:

The patients should have the opportunity to ask those crucial questions freely. Equally, they have the right to learn as much as possible about a procedure or service before it happens. Ultimately, all this information helps the patient to make the right decision for their needs and health.

Consequence of ineffective communication in Healthcare

When someone faces language barriers, informed consent can be difficult. So,  problems with interpreters in Healthcare arises. Furthermore, that lack of effective communication can lead to the following problems.

i) More patients face challenges in the understanding of their health conditions.

ii) It increases Confusion surrounding the patient diagnosis and reporting

iii) It reduces adherence to recommended treatment procedure and following instructions

iv) It results in inferior outcomes of the treatment and overall healthcare

v) It increases the time of staying in the hospital longer

An interpreting company like The Language Doctors can break down those language barriers and improve overall patient and healthcare team communications.

5. Laws and Regulations to minimize the problems with interpreters in healthcare:

There have been many efforts to fix the inequalities between non-English and English speakers in the healthcare sector. At present, three federal laws require healthcare service providers to offer interpretation services to their patients.

Laws and Regulations relating to Language Access in Healthcare

All acts having regulations involving language barriers are Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Affordable Care Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Moreover, these acts state that translators and interpreters must be available in hospitals for patients with limited English proficiency (LEP).

Equally, these acts are also applicable for those who are deaf and who are hard of hearing (HOH). Finally, the hospitals must provide interpretation services for up to 15 of the most spoken languages in the community to comply with these regulations. Keep in mind that these laws apply to all healthcare service providers that receive federal funding.

6. Ethical Challenges with interpreters in Healthcare:

There are many ethical challenges, and they play a critical role in Healthcare Interpreting services. We can easily imagine some of the most common ethical challenges faced by interpreters. After all, the interpreter’s primary job is to objectively convey the words of two or more parties, regardless of their native languages.

Ethical Challenges In Healthcare Interpreting.

Moreover, a medical interpreter can run into various privacy requirements such as doctor and patient confidentiality. Besides, this requires obeying a specific professional code of ethics.  This isn’t to indicate the actual code of ethics for Healthcare interpreters outlined by the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC).

Benefits of Minimizing the problems with Interpreters in Healthcare:

Fortunately, worldwide interpreting services are available through the Language Doctors Interpreting & Translating services on demand. Moreover, hospitals can work with our dedicated expert team of interpreters to provide this essential service to patients from various backgrounds.

Therefore, interpreters in healthcare settings can provide a range of benefits to the patients. Here we’ve discussed some of the most significant benefits in the following sections:

1. Reduces the Chances of Misdiagnoses in Healthcare:

One of the most severe problems is misdiagnosis due to not having an interpreter in healthcare. Likewise, important details get lost in translation. As a result, the lack of efficient communication.

Reduces the Chances of Misdiagnoses in Healthcare

However, physicians can comprehend the issues at hand much better when an interpreter is present. This can ultimately help hospitals avoid misdiagnosis and legal issues that arise when things go wrong.

2. Minimizing the problems with interpreters in Healthcare Facilitates Better Communication:

Professional healthcare interpreters are fluent and experienced in both the source and target languages. As a result, they’re qualified to provide accurate translations and necessary interpretation that speed up those lines of communication.

Facilitates Better Communication in Healthcare

Moreover, they have expertise in not only the language pair but also an understanding of medical knowledge. Thus, interpreters play a pivotal role in the treatment process of healthcare services.

3. Professional Healthcare Interpreters are Unbiased:

It is always a common problem of having bias when family or friends interoperate for patients. On the other hand, professional medical interpreters are trained to provide accurate and quality interpretation services.

Professional Healthcare Interpreters are Unbiased

Moreover, they will never input their recommendations as they strictly follow professional ethics. Similarly, they ensure that patients are free to make their own choices to get the best possible treatment.

4. Eliminates the Risks of Inadequate Informed Consent:

If the patients find a professional healthcare translator and interpreter service, they can better understand their care. Equally, they can ask all the crucial questions and have the necessary information to make an informed decision.

Eliminates the Risks of Inadequate Informed Consent

So, there will be minimal risk of having a misunderstanding and wrong treatment.

5. Overcoming the problems with interpreters in healthcare Reduces Patient Anxiety:

Due to language barriers, patients with limited English proficiency often have higher anxiety levels in hospital settings. Thus, it is better to eliminate those difficulties so that patients feel more confident and comfortable about the status of care they are receiving healthcare team.

Reduces Patient Anxiety in Healthcare

Otherwise, the treatment process will be incomplete, and patients will suffer from enormous mental stress.

6. Ensures Compliance to minimize the problems with interpreters in healthcare:

If you want to comply with all federal laws fully, you should invest in an interpreting service. Consequently, this will maximize your hospital’s reimbursements and improves the facility’s financial health.

Ensures Compliance in Healthcare Services

So, professional healthcare interpretation services have direct and indirect benefits that you should take to make patients happy. As a result, the problems with interpreters in healthcare can be reduced remarkably.

7. Lowers the Chances of Readmission in Hospital:

The patients can fully understand the treatment process and all other necessary issues when working with a professional interpreter. As a result, this increases the possibility that the patients will follow treatment instructions and reduce readmission chances.

Lowers the Chances of Readmission in Hospital

As a result, the problems with interpreters in healthcare minimizes significantly.  So, interpreters in Healthcare services can make happy both the patients and the healthcare team members.


Problems with interpreters in healthcare can be the root of many potential risks in the treatment process in hospital settings.  These problems arise from the lack of access to professionals and qualified interpreting services providers in the healthcare sector.

However, the significance of interpreters and translators in the healthcare sector is unavoidable. Finally, they ensure that every patient who comes to the hospital for treatment can receive the best service possible.

Call The Language Doctors team today for more information about our Healthcare Interpreting and Translation services. Our expert and experienced linguist would be happy to help you meet all your language interpreting and translation demands.

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