Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Step Forward

I've enthralled you all in the past with horrific tales of atrocities in medical interpreting. But I'm not a voice crying in the wilderness. The National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) has developed a code of ethics for medical interpreters and standards of practice.

I haven't had a chance to study these minutely, in my usual Jabert-like quest for damning flaws, but on a brief review they definitely seem to be on the right track. You can read both documents at the NCIHC web site, they're in the 'hot topics' links on the right.

Now that's all well and good, but getting hospitals and other institutions to actually employ interpreters who subscribe to the code of ethics and are qualified under the standards is the next problem. It won't just happen by itself. State health departments, health care consumer organizations, legislators, and individual managers and consumers all have to make sure it does. (I'm not counting on the feds right now. Although the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services could play an active role in this, they won't under the present administration.)

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