“I only have to talk to the patient for five minutes we do not need the interpreter.” In that five minutes you can put the patient, your facility and your career at risk.
Triage – trying to get by without the interpreter during triage can result in confusion of symptoms, delay in care and patient frustration. Not having an interpreter to understand the patient’s symptoms and history can result in this being their fourth trip to the ER because they are not being triaged correctly and they do not understand what is wrong.
Registration – so much data is collected during the surgery registration process; vitals, insurance, personal history, personal data, etc. Not having an interpreter can cause incomplete insurance or personal information data, potentially resulting in several thousands of dollars in fees that are rejected by insurance or the government due to not having filing the claim completely. Now that 5-minute registration is turning into collections and possible non-payment.
Patient and Family communication – the patient has had a number of tests and been hospitalized for several days, but no diagnosis has been able to be conveyed due to not having effective patient/caregiver communication. An understanding of everything happening with the patient is missing. This five minute conversation has now cost your facility multiple days of a hospital stay, a patient that is not any better and a distraught family because their loved one is “not being taken care of.”
Discharge – The patient is being discharged today after having a serious surgery. Not having an interpreter has slowed the discharge process, and the patient and family are nodding like they understand in hopes of making the process go quicker. Two days later the patient is re-admitted to the ER because they did not understand discharge instructions and did not follow the wound cleaning properly. This five minute discharge has now turned into a re-admission within two days and a potential hospital stay due to an infection.
Is that five minute conversation without an interpreter really worth the risk?