Catherine Tate has a terribly funny bit on YouTube where she pretends to be an interpreter. In that video, she doesn’t know any of the languages. All she has is a general idea of stereotypes and sounds and is able to fool her manager.
I asked myself how hard would it be for a bilingual person who already has a foundation in both languages to fake his way through an assignment with some technical medical terminology? My guess is not very hard, although a skilled certified interpreter would spot it in a split second.
What can you do to assure an accurate interpreter?
- Make sure to identify the need for an
interpreter and request one that is certified with plenty of time.
- Early request allows time to book a certified interpreter. On the other hand, last minute request might not even result is coverage at all.
- Meet with the interpreter ahead of time to:
- Review his background;
- Plan the session;
- Discuss the interpreting process; and
- Address concerns.
- Record the interpreter’s name.
- If a mistake is discovered, you know who is accountable.
- Permit the interpreter to finish the rendition before jumping to the next question.
- Allow the patient time to answer the question before jumping to the next question.
- Verify that the interpreter conveys the message
sentence by sentence, not word for word.
- Please refer to a previous blog that illustrates why the message must be conveyed not each word.
- Ask the patient to explain to you in his own words what he understood from the session. This way you are assured he understood what was transmitted.
- If you suspect that the interpreter rendition
was wonky, invest in a certified interpreter with an impeccable reputation to
observe him the next time.
- He might observe that the interpreter isn’t accurate; or
- You might observe the interpreter working differently and doing a better job in front of the other. If that is the case, there is a problem because that’s how it should have been from the start.
A few years since I was hired observe another interpreter in order to confirm a suspicion that the interpreter was doing it inacurately. On that occasion, the interpreter did an adequate job. However, I was later told that in previous appointments, she would paraphrase and argue in behalf of the patient.. Since the unethical behavior was uncovered, it has ceased. I believe that although taking these steps will incur additional costs, they will help avoid potential liability and very costly lawsuits. Additionally, once you locate a great team of interpreters with whom to collaborate, you now can feel secure as you move forward