I'd like to join the discussion about translating health care information for patients who don't speak English ("Speaking up for Medical Interpreters," Letters, March 2008).* Although it may seem more convenient to ask a bystander who speaks the patient's language to translate, an untrained translator may not convey the full message or may inadvertently pass on misinformation.
Even though Spanish is my first language, I feel professional medical interpreters need to be utilized. I speak Mexican-Spanish, which is very different from Cuban-, Puerto Rican-, or Colombian-Spanish. Medical interpreters are trained to provide the most accurate word-for-word translation. Let's not do a disservice to our patients by placing others in the uncomfortable position of translating for us just to save a few minutes.
*Individual subscribers can also access these articles free online at http://www.nursing2008.com[Context Link]