Standards of Practice for Health Care Interpreter.

 Accuracy – to enable other parties to know precisely what each speaker has said. 

  • The interpreter renders all messages accurately and completely, without adding, omitting, or substituting.
    • For example, an interpreter repeats all that is said, even if it seems redundant, irrelevant, or rude.
  • The interpreter replicates the register, style, and tone of the speaker.
    • Unless there is no equivalent in patient’s language, an interpreter does not substitute simpler explanations for medical terms a provider uses, but may ask the speaker t re-express themselves in language more easily understood by the other party.
  • The interpreter advises parties that everything said will be interpreted.
    • An interpreter may explain the interpreting process to a provider by saying “everything you say will be repeated to the patient.”
  • The interpreter manages the flow of communication.
    • An interpreter may ask a speaker to pause or slow down.
  • The interpreter corrects errors in interpretation.
    • An interpreter who has omitted an important word corrects the mistake as soon as possible.
  • The interpreter maintains transparency.
    • When asked for clarification, an interpreter says to all parties, “I, the interpreter, did not understand, so I am going to ask for an explanation.”

Confidentiality – to honor the private and personal nature of the health care interaction and maintain trust among all parties.

  • The interpreter maintains confidentiality and does not disclose information outside the treating team, except with the patient’s consent or if required by law.
    • For example, interpreter does not discuss a patient’s case with family or community members without the patient’s consent.
  • The interpreter protects written patient information in his or her possession.
    • An interpreter does not leave notes on an interpreting session in public view.

 Impartiality – To eliminate the effect of interpreter bias or preference.

  • The interpreter does not allow personal judgments or cultural values to influence objectivity.
    • For example, an interpreter does not reveal personal feelings through words, tone of voice, or body language.
  • The interpreter discloses potential conflicts of interest, withdrawing from assignments if necessary.
    • An interpreter avoids interpreting for a family member or close friend.

Respect – to acknowledge the inherent dignity of all parties in the interpreted encounter. 

  • The interpreter uses professional, culturally appropriate ways of showing respect.
    • For example, in greetings, an interpreter uses appropriate titles for both patient and provider.
  • The interpreter promotes direct communication among all parties in the encounter.
    • An interpreter may tell the patient and provider to address each other, rather than the interpreter.
  • The interpreter promotes patient autonomy.
    • An interpreter directs a patient who asks him or her for a ride home to appropriate resources within the institution.

 Cultural awareness – To facilitate communication across cultural differences.

  • The interpreter strives to understand the cultures associated with the languages he or she interprets, including biomedical culture.
    • For example, an interpreter learns about the traditional remedies some patients may use.
  • The interpreter alerts all parties to any significant cultural misunderstanding that arises.
    • If a provider asks a patient who is fasting for religious reasons to take an oral medication, an interpreter may call attention to the potential conflict.

 Role boundaries – To clarify the scope and limits of the interpreting role, in order to avoid conflicts of interest.

  • The interpreter limits personal involvement with all parties during the interpreting assignment.
    • For example, an interpreter does not share or elicit overly personal information in conversations with a patient.
  • The interpreter limits his or her professional activity to interpreting within an encounter.
    • An interpreter never advises a patient on health care questions, but redirects the patient to ask the provider.
  • The interpreter with an additional role adheres to all interpreting standards of practice while interpreting.
    • An interpreter who is also a nurse does not confer with another provider in the patient’s presence, without reporting what is said.

 Professionalism – the interpreter is honest and ethical in all business practices.

  • The interpreter is honest and ethical in all business practices.
    • For example, an interpreter accurately represents his or her credentials.
  • The interpreter is prepared for all assignments.
    • An interpreter asks about the nature of the assignment and reviews relevant terminology.
  • The interpreter discloses skill limitations with respect to particular assignments.
    • An interpreter who is unfamiliar with a highly technical medical term asks for an explanation before continuing to interpret.
  • The interpreter avoids sight translation, especially of complex or critical documents, if he or she lacks sight translational skills.
    • When asked to sight translate a surgery consent form, an interpreter instead asks the provider to explain its content and then interprets the explanation.
  • The interpreter is accountable for professional performance.
    • An interpreter does not blame others for his or her interpreting errors.
  • The interpreter advocates for working conditions that support quality interpreting.
    • An interpreter on a lengthy assignment indicates when fatigue might compromise interpreting accuracy.
  • The interpreter shows respect for professionals with whom he or she works.
    • An interpreter does not spread rumors that would discredit another interpreter.
  • The interpreter acts in a manner befitting the dignity of the profession and appropriate to the setting.
    • An interpreter dresses appropriately and arrives in time for appointments.

Professional development – to attain the highest possible level of competence and service.

  • The interpreter continues to develop language and cultural knowledge and interpreting skills.
    • For example, an interpreter stays up to date on changes in medical terminology or regional slang.
  • The interpreter seeks feedback to improve his or her performance.
    • An interpreter consults with colleagues about a challenging assignment.
  • The interpreter supports the professional development of fellow interpreters.
    • An experienced interpreter mentors novice interpreters.
  • The interpreter participates in organizations and activities that contribute to the development of the profession.
    • An interpreter attends professional workshops and conferences.

Advocacy – to prevent harm to parties that the interpreter serves.

  • The interpreter may speak out to protect an individual from serious harm.
    • For example, an interpreter may intervene on behalf of a patient with a life-threatening allergy, if the condition has been overlooked.
  • The interpreter may advocate on behalf of a party or group to correct mistreatment or abuse.
    • An interpreter may alert his or her supervisor to patterns of disrespect towards patients.