So here is the provocative question. Does your high school Spanish make you a medical interpreter?
Many times, we have a basic understanding of another language and feel confident that we can communicate in that language. We also feel that even if we are not that great in the new language, it is the job of the native speakers to comprehend what we are saying and pardon our errors. This strategy works OK when you are traveling abroad and lets say you are asking for walking directions to the Colosseum in Rome using your sketchy Italian. This will, however, not pass muster in a clinical encounter.
The patient and family are not there to be on the receiving end of our amateur French or Spanish, nor is it their job to pardon our errors and fill in the gaps. Watch the video to learn the bilingual rule.
VJ Periyakoil, MD, Stanford University School of Medicine. Tweet to us: @palliator