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Limited English patientHow Does Your Practice Handle This?

  • You receive a phone call like this: “I’d like to make an appointment for my father. He only speaks Greek.”

  • A new patient shows up in your reception area and your reception staff isn’t sure what language she speaks.

  • One of your doctors is speaking with a patient and the doc is pretty sure that what he’s saying isn’t being understood.

  • One of your staff is making a post-procedure follow-up call to a patient and the only English-speaking person available is the patient’s teenage daughter.

In each case, your practice is required by law to provide the exact same services that you would to any English-speaking patient. And that the patient must be provided with the proper opportunity to understand conversations, diagnoses, medication instructions, etc.

So, What Do You Do?

Well, there are several things you can’t do: You can’t send them away and ask them to bring an interpreter next time. You can’t ask one of your staff people who speaks their language to come over and intrepret. You can’t all just speak a lot louder and hope they understand...

The only thing you can legally do is arrange for the services of a qualified interpreter to enter into the provider-patient setting. And you’d better do it right now, because the doc and the patient are just sitting there staring at each other.

Here’s Where We Come In

If you had arranged to become a client of Highland Language Services before that limited-English patient came into your office, all you’d do at this point is place a very simple call to our toll-free number, and in about 45 seconds (only 20 seconds for Spanish) an interpreter would come into the conversation and start right into the provider-patient conversation. That’s all it takes!