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Make sure you’re communicating appropriately with patients
e-Reports, Jan. 23, 2012
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Federal laws require interpreters for hearing impaired, limited English proficiency patients Untitled document

If you receive federal assistance like Medicare and Medicaid, you must under the federal Civil Rights Act provide foreign language interpreters for patients with limited English proficiency. State civil rights laws also prohibit discrimination.

Limited English Proficiency patients are unable to speak, read, write or understand the English language at a level that permits effective interaction with health caregivers and social services agencies.

Several language interpreter services are available, and you are required to absorb the cost for them. Do not charge the patient or the patient’s insurance company. Some patients’ insurance companies, as well as malpractice insurers, offer free or discounted interpreter services.

Find more details at HHS or contact the ISMA’s Legal Department.

And also the hearing impaired
Hearing impaired patients fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and physician offices are required to ensure no one with a disability

“…is excluded, denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently than other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services, unless the public accommodation can demonstrate that taking such steps would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations being offered or would result in an undue burden, i.e. significant difficulty or expense.”

Federal representatives have indicated that receiving less reimbursement from an insurer than you pay for an interpreter is not an “undue burden.”

Auxiliary aids include qualified interpreters and note takers as well as other methods of communicating with patients having hearing impairments. Ultimately, remember that failure to provide a reasonable aid, either literally or in the patient’s view, could result in a discrimination lawsuit. Find additional information on the Americans with Disabilities Act at:

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