Why are workers’ comp interpreters hated? Part III

As previously mentioned, there are serious problems in the industry. The larger the agency, the more difficult it is to maintain quality control.  Due to these problems, there is real danger for trouble to brew.

First, the patient can be at great risk. Incorrect interpreting can lead to misunderstanding and errors in treatment. Although some interpreters may mean well, coaching can influence a patient to make inappropriate decisions. They can unwittingly create bad will between the patient and the medical professional. Some have coached patients in order to continue treatment or undergo unnecessary procedures.

Second are the disastrous monetary consequences that affect everyone else. Costly legal fees, interpreter liability, and higher medical insurance expenses impact us all as rate increases are passed down to the consumer.

When one takes into account the liability issues involved, it seems to me that the policy to only use large language companies can incur its own heavy burden. Longer claims, legal issues, and appointment problems all carry a price tag.

We have chosen to limit our coverage of service to South Carolina in order to assure greater control over quality. In this way, we personally meet and interview each independent interpreter we use. This affords us the opportunity to evaluate skill level, discuss ethical conduct, and review our company’s expectations.

Once an independent interpreter is on board, we provide regular training sessions. Training helps improve interpreting and addresses issues that might arise. The IMIA Code of Ethics is regularly considered and brought to life with real-life examples and skits.  The independent staff is also encouraged to continue professional education and development.

Our independent interpreter team must follow a professional dress code and have a name badge for identification.

In view of the fact that workers’ comp interpreters do spend an extended period of time with a patient, what steps do we take to maintain impartiality?

  • We regularly review the IMIA Code of Ethics and discuss the importance of being unbiased. Our interpreters understand that if they feel compromised, we will simply reassign them.
  • If one of our interpreters requests to not work with a certain patient, we respect that wish. By paying close attention, we can catch any potential problems before they arise.
  • Usually, a claimant will meet two to three interpreters on our team; this provides for familiarity at a distance.

We also remind our team that interpreters are not doctors or lawyers; there is no room to dispense medical or legal advice.  The role in our chosen profession is to facilitate clear communication.

The size of our company is manageable.  Our focus is on the state of South Carolina, not the entire nation.  This makes a dramatic difference in the quality of our interpreters and our ability to handle issues as they turn up.  Perhaps some of the large insurance companies should take notice; it would be wise to for them to review their policies of using national agencies only and include state agencies as well.  Although said posture would require them to deal with more companies than just a handful, there would also be more options for quality control, thereby lowering expenses.

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