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Exchange of Medical Information

Follow the process to request medical interpreters whenever exchanging medical information with non-English, LEP (Limited English Proficient) and deaf or hard of hearing patients to ensure patient’s rights.

Summary guidelines to work with medical interpreters. For a more comprehensive guide contact us:

  1. Prior to Seeing the Patient
    • Give background & set goals to “get on the same page”, before entering the room.
    • Encourage clarification .
  2. Etiquette
    • Address the patient, not the interpreter, and maintain primary eye contact with your patient.
    • Don’t “think out loud”. Patients wonder what is NOT being interpreted and sometimes understand more than they can speak.
  3. The Dialogue
    • Keep a comfortable pace that will allow time for interpretation.
    • Avoid medical jargon and idiomatic expressions to make the encounter less complicated.
    • Listen before redirecting.
    • Give full information on diagnosis, tests, and treatment.
    • Confirm understanding and agreement with patient to ensure compliance.
    • Encourage interpreter to clarify terms with you. Feel free to ask interpreter to interpret back to you whenever you are concerned about the accuracy and completness of the interpretation.
  4. Debriefing
    • Use the interpreter as a resource for you.
    • Speak privately with the medical interpreter who may perceive cultural and emotional subtleties more clearly.
  5. Ensure Accuracy and Confidentiality
    • Do not ask the patients to bring their own interpreter.
    • Do not ask another patient to help you interpret.
    • Do not use children or family members.
    • Do not use non-qualified hospital support staff.
  6. Documentation
    • Document the presence of the MGH Medical Interpreter on the patient's chart.  All the MGH Medical Interpreters carry ID's indentifying them as such.

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