Interpreters are essential for understanding and efficiency

An interpreter was booked by colleagues working in a local Dermatology Department.  The Service User had a follow up appointment with a Consultant and had requested that the same interpreter be booked.  That interpreter arrived 15 minutes before the consultation but could not locate the patient in the waiting area.  The Receptionist suggested that maybe the patient had been invited into the appointment early.  She helpfully sent a message to the Consultant that the interpreter had arrived and was available.

A second message was sent 20 minutes later.  After a while the patient emerged with the Consultant, who said they had used the patient’s wife to interpret.

The interpreter checked with the patient whether he had understood what had happened during the appointment.  The patient had not understood and his wife had been asked to complete an important questionnaire which would inform future treatment.  The interpreter quickly checked the questionnaire and assessed that 80% had been incorrectly completed.

The helpful Receptionist said that the Consultant had known that an interpreter was booked as it was recorded in the patient’s notes.  She had chosen to call the patient in before the interpreter arrived.

SIS understands the pressure on hospital colleagues.  We also appreciate that it can sometimes seem that patients understand and may be reluctant to say they do not understand.  However it is important to use professional interpreters to check understanding.

This time, at the suggestion of the interpreter, the Consultant ran a clarification appointment straight away so that the patient could understand his treatment options.

In the interests of learning and efficiency SIS takes such examples to contract meetings with Commissioners.

Arran – Director