Microlecture 28: What is Acceptable Non-Verbal Communication in a Clinical Encounter

Microlecture 002: Medical interpreter as a Voice Conduit

It can be a bit awkward to figure out how to best to optimally engage the medical interpreter (MI). Is the MI just the “voice” of the patient? Should they transmit only the verbal aspects? What about the nonverbal aspects of what the patient is saying? For example, if the patient is depressed should the MI translate what the patient says with a depressed affect? Does that make the MI a method actor? Also, think about how emotion and social cues vary from culture to culture. For example,  think about a highly volatile and emotional culture and contrast it with a restrained and “stiff upper lip” culture. Will depression present differently in these cultures? 
VJ Periyakoil, MD,  Stanford University School of Medicine. Tweet to us: @palliator

Microlecture 014: Should We Think of the Interpreter as an Invisible Person?

“The best thing to do from a medical providers perspective to help the MI is to act as if the MI is invisible” says Maria Reira. Ms. Reira is an expert medical interpreter (MI) who interprets in  Spanish, Catalan and German.

Should we behave like the MI is an invisible person,  ‘body-less’ voice if you will? This is to say that even if a MI is there in person, treat them like they are a telephone interpreter. Well, I am not sure. The MI is incredibly helpful in a clinical encounter and I will lose a lot of valuable data if I reduced their role to a mere voice. If I have an MI in my clinical encounter, I am going to look to her/him to interpret the verbal and non-verbal aspects of patient communication. Do you agree? What would you recommend?

VJ Periyakoil, MD, Stanford University School of Medicine.

Tweet to us: @palliator