Transcript Module 2.3

Dr. Rivera: Look, it's not that simple, Aaron. We're not just dealing with the language barrier here. We're -- we're dealing with cultural issues too.

Dr. Johnson: How many visits did she have without an interpreter?

Dr. Rivera: Look, we had her granddaughter there.

Dr. Johnson: Do you realize the potential malpractice risks of not being able to communicate with a patient?

Dr. Rivera: Never mind about the malpractice risks, Aaron. I -- I'm worried about the human risk. This is a very sick woman whose granddaughter will be devastated when she dies. It was probably too late to save her even before she got here.

Dr. Brown: Malpractice? Human risks? Pretty grim way to start off a Friday.

Dr. Rivera: It's Mrs. Lien. She refuses treatment or even an exam, but her daughter keeps sending her here with her granddaughter in hopes that I can convince her to do something. She's very sick, and she doesn't speak English. And we've been talking to her through her granddaughter and the neighbor, but I don't think it's working. And Aaron has been enlightening me about his opinion about using interpreters. I'm sorry. I just hate the fact that I can't even try to save her.

Dr. Brown: It's never easy to watch a patient waste away. And we all have those times. We all wonder if we could have done better. But we can't let the self-doubt paralyze us. We can still make things right. Aaron, do you know of any interpreter services in this area that might be able to handle Vietnamese?

Dr. Johnson: You've never had to use an interpreter before?

Dr. Rivera: Most of my professional life, I was the interpreter. Everyone always called on me whenever they had a patient they couldn't communicate with. I was the only one who spoke Spanish.

Dr. Johnson: There are a few options for interpreter service that I can think of. One, with a little notice, we can get someone sent over from the hospital. Two, we can use telephone interpreter Services. Three, there are specialized interpreter services in the phone book. We could also look at local Vietnamese organizations to see if they have any trained interpreters.

Dr. Rivera: Let's do it. Rose, could you work with Aaron to try and find an interpreter. And Joan, I need you to call back Mrs. Lien's daughter and arrange for her to be here when an interpreter's available. I don't want phone interpretation. and we all need to do this face-to-face and as quickly as possible.

Dr. Brown: Aaron, could you and Linda work with Joan to develop a protocol for the office so that we know how to arrange interpreter services for all our LEP patients?

Dr. Rivera: While we're on the subject of limited English proficiency patients, we need to talk about the situation with Mrs. Gonzales when she came in this week. I don't think she was treated very well at all. Just because she doesn't speak English well doesn't mean that she should be treated differently from other patients. I often hear people say that they think that people that live in this country should speak English, but we have a responsibility to all our patients, regardless of language, race, ethnic origin, or any other factor.

Linda Smith: Personal beliefs aside, the fact of the matter is that the government requires health care providers to provide services in the language of our patients. We're the ones that need to speak their language.

Dr. Brown: I think that this is an important topic that we should set aside for an agenda to deal with next week. For now, though, we've got a long agenda to handle today. While on the topic today, though, I'd like to apologize to Dr. Rivera. I made a stereotypical statement to her about Hispanic women. I meant it as a joke. But she helped me understand that fostering stereotypes about other people is never funny. All of us can do better about how we treat others, even me.