March 28, 2017 Articles

Language Services: The Need for Trained Medical Interpreters and Translators

Patients with limited medical literacy are not a novel issue, but, ironically, the problem has worsened since the enactment of the ACA.

By Hanna Kim

The enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded health-care coverage for millions of uninsured Americans. Notably, one of the results of the ACA has been a significant increase in the number of insured individuals who are of limited English proficiency (LEP). While federal mandates already require hospitals to offer translation and interpretation services for LEP patients, the ACA extended the penalties against providers who do not provide language services to LEP patients. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 42 U.S.C. ยง 18001 et seq. (2010). Unfortunately, even with the ACA provisions, there is still a great need for sufficient language services. In order to address the medical needs of an increasing LEP population and the medical errors caused by inadequate language services, it is incredibly important for hospitals to incorporate professional, trained translators and interpreters. 

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