As with translations, miscommunications through an interpreter can lead to poor health outcomes. Interpretation is a skill requiring practice both by the interpreter and the healthcare professional. See Appendices\Transitional Care\Articles & Resources\How to use an Interpreter.docxFamily members and friends may not be accurate in interpreting. There also may be information exchanged that would violate patient privacy with a family member or friend. Interpretation could be altered to “protect” the patient or reflect the interpreter’s perspective rather than the patient’s. Do not use a minor for interpretation. Ideally a qualified interpreter is used for the most accurate interpretations. When the community charity pharmacy is likely to serve multilingual patients, hiring multilingual staff and training them as an interpreter is a cost effective, privacy compliant option.

Whether using technology (tablet or phone based) or a live qualified interpreter, communication needs to be clear and personal.

  • Maintain eye contact with patient, not interpreter. This will give nonverbal clues to patient understanding.
  • Use language that is easily interpreted and non-technical when possible.
  • Speak directly to the patient, not “Tell her…”
  • Be patient. What in English is a short sentence may be multiple sentences in another language. The interpreter may need to think what the best way to interpret what was said by patient or healthcare provider.

Use of technology for interpretation takes practice. See Interpretation for resources. Before ending the session, verify the patient clearly understands and has had questions answered and the pharmacy has all the information needed.