Role of Medical Interpreter as Patient Advocate

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Professional providers of language in medicine or medical interpreters are often portrayed as invisible language facilitators (Angelelli 7). This means that their role is to convey the meaning into the other language between parties in the interaction which is accomplished through a conduit role or message converter role. The incremental intervention model of interpreting lets interpreters use a variety of roles including cultural broker and advocate role. Advocacy is a role that an interpreter takes that moves from interpreting the communication between speakers to acting on behalf of one of the speakers based on the interpreter’s understanding of what the speaker’s intended outcome is (NCIHC). It is challenging for medical interpreters to judge when to switch from their role as message converters to become patient advocates, and speak out in their own voice on behalf of a patient maintaining, at all times, high ethical and professional standards. When interpreters step in the role of patient advocate they become visible in the interaction going beyond the conduit role and becoming co-participants in the triad. What is the ethical role of the medical interpreter as an advocate for the Latino patient?; when is it appropriate to use advocacy?; how to make the decision?; what are the consequences of inappropriate use of advocacy role?; what are the boundaries? To answer all these questions is necessary to define advocacy. The meaning of advocacy in medical interpretation is “an action taken on behalf of an individual that goes beyond facilitating communication, with the intention of supporting good health outcomes” (NCIHC 3). According to CHIA standards for healthcare interpreters, “interpreters enter into the patient advocate... ... middle of paper ... ...terpreters Association IMIA http://www.imiaweb.org/uploads/pages/376_2.pdf Hsieh, Eleine. “Health literacy and patient empowerment: The role of medical interpreters in bilingual health care”. Reducing health disparities: Communication intervention. M. Dutta & G. Kreps, 2013 (pp. 35-58). New York: Peter Lang. [invited contribution] Web. 1 November 2013, from http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/H/Elaine.K.Hsieh- 1/download/Hsieh2013-Dutta%20Chapter.pdf International Medical Interpreters Association & Education Development Center, Inc. Medical Interpreting Standards of Parctice http://www.imiaweb.org/uploads/pages/102.pdf The National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCHIC). A National Code of Ethics for Interpreters in Health Care. July 2004. Web. 15 September 2013. http://www.ncihc.org/assets/documents/publications/NCIHC%20National%20Code %20of%20Ethics.pdf
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