Making the best of health advocates and interpreters

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7373.1175 (Published 16 November 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1175

Telephone interpreting is not an acceptable solution

  1. Peter von Kaehne, general practitioner. (vkaehne@doctors.org.uk)
  1. Fernbank Medical Centre, Glasgow G22 6BD
  2. EITI Limited, EITI House, Bridgegate, Howden DN14 7AE

    EDITOR—I agree with Adams's assertion that it is unacceptable to neglect to use interpreters with non-English speaking patients.1 As she acknowledges, telephone interpreting is not ideal and should be used only if there is no other solution—for example, out of hours or in an emergency. Telephone interpreting does not allow any checking on the quality of the translation unless you are using a telephone with a loudspeaker or two handsets.

    In an ideal world interpreters would all be university trained and completely reliable, but good interpreters in most of the languages used by refugees are few, most being self taught. So keeping an eye on key words used, length of …

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