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In Your Own Language: The Importance of Having Personal Injury Attorneys You Can Communicate With

By: Michael Bannon, Anapol Weiss Associate

By Michael Bannon, Anapol Weiss Associate

Federal law guarantees that any patient to take advantage of medical interpreting in most hospitals and other medical facilities. But, in reality, medical interpretation is inconsistently available and sometimes ignored by providers altogether.

News stories, books, and court cases all demonstrate the obvious: if providers cannot communicate effectively with their patients, they cannot treat their patients effectively, either. Two years ago, The New Yorker detailed an exchange between an emergency medicine resident posing as a patient and a language-line interpreter who told the purported patient “shut your mouth” when the patient repeatedly tried to bring up a key part of their medical history. In The Spirit Cathces You and You Fall, journalist Anne Fadiman chronicles a Hmong child with epilepsy as she and her family seek treatment in America. And there are lawsuits detailing the failure of a hospital to provide an American Sign Language interpreter and interpreters who can speak various dialects. The results can be dire.

Interpretation problems are widespread. Approximately 25 million Americans are thought to have limited English-language skills. Some hospitals, like Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Massachusetts, have interpreters of commonly-spoken languages on staff and implemented video interpretation services through hospital iPads for other languages. But not every hospital has made the same advances.

At Anapol Weiss, we recognize the importance of being understood in the language that you feel most comfortable in. If you have been injured because your doctor couldn’t understand you, our team of bilingual attorneys is here to advocate for you and walk you through every step of the process.

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