“I’m sorry, the appointment was canceled.”

A couple of years ago, I received a call from an agency regarding an interpreting assignment in Greenville.  When I arrived at the facility, the nurse case manager indignantly asked me who I was and why was I there instead of the interpreter she requested.  I introduced myself and explained that an agency contracted me.

To make matters worse, the case manager was then informed by the agency that the patient would not arrive to the appointment because he was not home to be picked up.  Hastily, the case manager called the patient to find out what was going on.  The patient explained that his interpreter informed him the appointment was canceled, therefore the patient went to visit a neighbor.  At the urging of the case manager, the patient immediately raced from Greenwood to Greenville, about an hour away.

Meanwhile, the case manager called the interpreter to find out why he canceled the appointment. The interpreter stated that the agency notified him that it was canceled.  At once, the case manager called the agency to find out if that was true.  Eventually, a woman at the agency confirmed that indeed the other interpreter was told it was canceled, instead of just advising the interpreter that the agency was not going to pay the extra mileage.

This deception caused the interpreter to unwittingly mislead the patient about his appointment.  The case manager was also upset that the agency did not inform her from the beginning that it would not pay her interpreter’s mileage.  No one likes negative surprises.

No company can always provide everything the client wants.  It is much better to be upfront about these matters instead of resorting to deception that will ultimately lead to complications and mistrust.

Obviously the interpreter would have been upset if the agency were to tell him he was being replaced due to distance and cost.  Nevertheless he would have understood and would not have passed the deception on to the patient.  The same applies to the case manager.  She may have been dismayed, but she would have been aware.  Being kept in the dark is never a good thing for the person responsible for coordinating the patient’s medical treatment.

I know this is a huge cliché, but honesty really is the best and only policy.


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