interpreting during a physical therapy appointment
Thread poster: Adriana Johnston

Adriana Johnston  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 17, 2014

Hello, fellow interpreters, I was wondering, for you who are used to doing medical onsite interpreting at a pt facility, when the patient has to do his exercises going all over the place, do you like follow the patient standing behind him to interpret, or just sit down/stand in a corner until the therapist says he needs you to interpret. I don't want to be in the way, plus when a patient has therapy 3 times a week, it's kind of a routine for the patient, and I'd have to interpret the same instructions each time. What is your experience with this?
Thank you all, Adriana.


 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 12:59
Romanian to English
+ ...
Dear Adriana, Aug 18, 2014

Yes, you follow the patient unless instructed otherwise by the PT. While walking from one station to the other, the PT may ask the patient how he/she feels, if there is any pain or discomfort, dizziness etc It is not only about instructions.

good luck,
lee


 

Adriana Johnston  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
following the patient Aug 18, 2014

Thank you Lee,

Yes, I usually follow the patient in this case and ocasionally if the Doctor sit down I do too. So I think that you should stand behind the patient, and really pay attention to the provider's intructions.


 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 12:59
Romanian to English
+ ...
Adriana, Aug 18, 2014

It is not a standard rule where to place yourself, like in the courtroom; you can stay wherever it is comfortable for everybody involved. You can chat, interact with the patient when the PT or DR does not talk to her/him. Act naturally.

best,
Lee

[Edited at 2014-08-19 03:13 GMT]


 

Javier Wasserzug  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
depende Aug 18, 2014

Depends on the situation, there could a number of combinations and arregements. Talk to both parties.

 

Adriana Johnston  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You can chat, interact with the patient... Aug 19, 2014

Hi Lee,
Thank you again for your input, I hate to disagree with you about chatting with the patient when the Dr is not around. I know at times it could be awkward, but a professional medical interpreter is not supposed to have side conversations with the patients for obvious reasons.

I try to keep any side conversations at a minimum without being rude to the patient, and if I am interacting with the patient, when possible I try to involve the provider in the conversation or at least brief him/her in what me and the patient are talking about.


 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 12:59
Romanian to English
+ ...
Adriana, Aug 19, 2014

you can do whatever you want. I have been interpreting both medical and legal for over 20 years, and I always kept in mind that we are humans, not robots. PT is about doing certain exercises, it is not a testimony in a jury trial. Be relaxed!

Best,
Lee


 

David Lin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:59
Member (2013)
English to Chinese
+ ...

MODERATOR
agreed Aug 19, 2014

Adriana Johnston wrote:

Hi Lee,
Thank you again for your input, I hate to disagree with you about chatting with the patient when the Dr is not around. I know at times it could be awkward, but a professional medical interpreter is not supposed to have side conversations with the patients for obvious reasons.

I try to keep any side conversations at a minimum without being rude to the patient, and if I am interacting with the patient, when possible I try to involve the provider in the conversation or at least brief him/her in what me and the patient are talking about.


I agreed with you Adriana. I would rather interpret whatever is said between the therapist and the patient. Nothing more than that. It is because it could be a risk if the patient later complains that the interpreter said something and he/she thought it was useful to the health and in fact it was not.

Sometimes I would speak to the patient though when the therapist does not speak, but I would tell the therapist what I have said to the patient for the sole purpose to help them communicate, not anything about my opinions or something else. Transparent to all parties is important in this kind of job if you want to speak to the patient with the clear purpose of interpreting and enhance communication between the two parties.

Be relax and natural is crucial in such a circumstance because part of our role as interpreter is to facilitate communication between the therapist and the patient to enable the latter to receive treatment smoothly.

And that is what you are paid to do.


 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 12:59
Romanian to English
+ ...
????? Aug 21, 2014

David Lin wrote:

It is because it could be a risk if the patient later complains that the interpreter said something and he/she thought it was useful to the health and in fact it was not.


And that is what you are paid to do.


Chatting (when possible) about music, homeland, nice places to travel is not „medical

advice”. Where is the problem? Actually that differentiates an average good

interpreter from a good sought-after interpreter. I have a short story to tell. There is a very large

and renown hospital 70 miles from where I live. The are two lady interpreters in that

city with a very small population that speaks our language. For more than 15 years,

the hospital staff prefers to call me and pay my higher rate + travel time and miles.

Why? Because I know how to put a human face to our robotic job!

It is a shame that the so-called Code of ethics does not teach how to be a normal,

social human being.

Lee


 

David Lin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:59
Member (2013)
English to Chinese
+ ...

MODERATOR
Chatting's ok Aug 24, 2014

lee roth wrote:

David Lin wrote:

It is because it could be a risk if the patient later complains that the interpreter said something and he/she thought it was useful to the health and in fact it was not.


And that is what you are paid to do.


Chatting (when possible) about music, homeland, nice places to travel is not „medical

advice”. Where is the problem? Actually that differentiates an average good

interpreter from a good sought-after interpreter. I have a short story to tell. There is a very large

and renown hospital 70 miles from where I live. The are two lady interpreters in that

city with a very small population that speaks our language. For more than 15 years,

the hospital staff prefers to call me and pay my higher rate + travel time and miles.

Why? Because I know how to put a human face to our robotic job!

It is a shame that the so-called Code of ethics does not teach how to be a normal,

social human being.

Lee


Chatting is ok as long as the physician or therapist knows what you are chatting about and not talk something he/she does not understand because it isn't English.

I agree with human face but everything has to be transparent in our chat to avoid any doubt among all parties involved.

You look popular. Congrats! icon_smile.gif

David


 

Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 12:59
Romanian to English
+ ...
Thank you David, Aug 25, 2014

I approached this matter because I sensed some rigid approach by the asker.

Medical interpreting has a great variety of aspects.
I was lucky enough to spend 6 months/8-10 hrs/day (including weekends)in a hospital room(hired by the hospital) with a terminally ill patient ; spent 3 months, 8hrs/day in a mental health ward with a schizophrenic patient; the medical staff dressed me up in order to follow them in the operating room numerous times etc.
These situations taught me to have a different approach to medical interpreting - the "social" aspect, that nobody mentions or teaches the new interpreters.
Of all medical interpretations, physical therapy is the most relaxed and fun, therefore, why this rigid approach?

In my opinion, the Code of ethics is a guide to the old common sense (something almost missing nowadays, when we need instructions how to thread a needle).

Obviously, if a medical staff is present, you do your job and interpret everything that is said, and no chatting, but there is so much time when nobody else is around (medical staff). What do you do? You stare at each other or interact as a normal social being?

This is what bothers me the most, because I have seen very often this "by the book" approach and I can tell you - it is counterproductive!

Best to everybody,
Lee

[Edited at 2014-08-25 13:34 GMT]


 


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interpreting during a physical therapy appointment

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