Quality & Patient Safety

Certification defines qualified medical interpreters, keeps patients safe

Patient Safety Monitor, March 1, 2010

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One of the most vital parts of providing adequate healthcare is the exchange of information between patient and caregiver. Without clear communication, it can be difficult, and even dangerous, to treat a patient. For patients who have limited English proficiency (LEP), as well as providers, the presence of a medical interpreter can allay fears about care. Most importantly, using a qualified medical interpreter to assist with communication keeps patients safe.

Until recently, however, there has been no national standard by which to evaluate medical interpreters. In October 2009, the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) launched the National Medical Interpreter Certification and hopes to have the first 500 interpreters certified by June. The certification helps define a qualified, proficient medical interpreter.

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