The Importance of Medical Interpreters and ASL in Healthcare

The Importance of Medical Interpreters and ASL in Healthcare

As the need for healthcare services continues to grow in diverse communities, the importance of medical interpreters and ASL (American Sign Language) in healthcare cannot be overstated. In a healthcare setting, clear communication is essential to ensure that patients receive proper diagnosis and treatment.

What are Medical Interpreters?

Medical interpreters are language professionals who facilitate communication between patients and healthcare providers who do not share a common language. They are trained to accurately interpret and convey medical information to ensure that all parties understand and are understood.

Medical interpreters may work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and private practices. They play a critical role in providing equal access to healthcare for individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP). Without medical interpreters, patients may struggle to convey their symptoms and medical history to their healthcare providers, leading to misdiagnosis or incorrect treatment.

The Role of ASL in Healthcare

ASL is a visual language used by members of the deaf community to communicate with each other. In healthcare, ASL interpreters are used to facilitate communication between deaf patients and healthcare providers.

According to the National Association of the Deaf, there are approximately 28 million people in the United States with some degree of hearing loss. Therefore, it is important to have ASL interpreters available in healthcare settings to ensure effective communication.

Without ASL interpreters, deaf patients may struggle to understand medical instructions or explanations. This can lead to misunderstandings, failure to adhere to treatment plans and ultimately poorer health outcomes.

Benefits of Medical Interpreters and ASL in Healthcare

Clear communication between patients and healthcare providers is essential for proper diagnosis, treatment, and care. Patients who do not have access to interpreters may experience unnecessary delays in receiving treatment, diagnosis errors or at worst mistreatment.

Medical interpreters and ASL interpreters are essential in preventing these types of issues from occurring. They enable healthcare providers to provide the highest level of care for all patients, regardless of language or sensory impairment.

Furthermore, medical interpreters and ASL interpreters help to ensure that a patient’s informed consent is obtained. They allow patients to fully understand their diagnosis, treatment, and any potential risks and benefits associated with it.

The Cost of Not Providing Interpretation Services

The cost of not providing interpretation services is far-reaching. Healthcare providers may face legal repercussions for not providing equal access to healthcare services for patients who have difficulty communicating in English or using ASL.

Furthermore, the cost of misdiagnosis or incorrect treatment can be much greater than the cost of providing interpretation services. Providing interpretation services ensures that all patients have equal access to healthcare services, which not only benefits the patients themselves but also helps healthcare providers to minimize the risk of legal action or high follow-up costs.


Medical interpreters and ASL interpreters play a critical role in ensuring that all patients have access to high-quality healthcare services. By facilitating clear communication between patients and healthcare providers, these professionals help to prevent misdiagnosis, treatment errors, and delay. Healthcare providers should ensure that they provide interpretation services to all patients who may benefit from them, as it is an essential aspect of providing compassionate and high-quality healthcare services.

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