Study: Pediatricians use family, not translators

A new study has concluded that pediatricians largely use family members, rather than professional translators, to convey health information to non-English-speaking patients. The Johns Hopkins study, which surveyed 1,829 pediatricians, found that 70 percent of pediatricians use bilingual family members as translators. Fifty-eight percent also call on bilingual staff members. Meanwhile, 40 percent used professional interpreters, and 35 percent provided translated written materials. Not surprisingly, pediatricians in states where such services were covered by public health insurers were more likely to use translators. Pediatricians with large numbers of Hispanic patients were less likely to use interpreters. The study's authors contend that these numbers should concern health policy experts. After all, they suggest, poor translations can compromise safety, increase health care costs and decrease satisfaction. Still, given the overhead already faced by smaller practices, it seems unlikely that they'll be able to afford a translator unless they're paid to hire one.

To get more study information:
- read this United Press International article

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