National Council on Interpreting in Health Care, Standards of Practice 20 and 21:

The Interpreter is prepared for all assignments

The interpreter discloses skill limitations with respect to particular assignments

What information do interpreters need? How is it possible disclose skill limitations to decline an appointment, for example, without knowing the nature of an assignment ahead of time?

The following chart details some logistical and subject matter issues the interpreter needs to know before arriving at the appointment.

In addition, Gaucha Translations recommends that the interpreter and the Health Care Practitioner have a preconference when possible to clarify any additional issues, or the Medical Assistant leave a note for the interpreter with the receptionist, in a sealed envelope, with key aspects of terminology the interpreter should be researching before the appointment. The interpreter could use online resources such as those listed on this page for that research. Giving the interpreter a few minutes for this preparation improves the quality of the interpreted session.

Date of Service
Interpreter arrival time (to account for interpreter helping with paperwork or other ancillary duties if needed) Please state the expected work required before the actual appointment in the work order. This work, of course, is on the clock…
Appointment start time
Estimated end time Interpreters will schedule their next appointments based on this estimate. Payment for this amount of time is expected, but they may not be able to stay longer due to other commitments.
Location Address, including office number, suite number, phone number.
Arrival instructions For example: Northwest end of Safeway shopping mall/North entrance of building number 5 in office park/Come in through door on south side of building, next to gym entrance/Special elevator instructions/Special parking instructions.Often, interpreters are late, looking for unmarked entrances
On-site Contact information If the interpreter gets lost, or has any other emergency issues, the interpreter will call this number. Often, the local contact person is very happy to give directions to their office! In other cases, the contracting agency takes care of these details.
Health Care Provider Name of Health Care Provider: Often, this helps the staff know who the interpreter is assigned to on arrival. When interpreters check in with the receptionist, the receptionist needs to know who the interpreter is there to support: both the name of the patient and the name of the Health Care Provider are useful pieces of information.
LEP (Limited English Proficient) patient or person
Language  Verifying that the interpreter is assigned to the appropriate language pair is important.
Type of appointment Office visit, surgery, x-ray, etc.,
Medical Specialty  Surprisingly, interpreters often are not told what specialty they are expected to interpret for! They are often only given an address for a very large medical complex.
Additional requests If the interpreter should perform any other services besides interpreting at the appointment itself, such as reminder calls, this should be stated, and the parameters for these extra services should be discussed.The complexities of reminder calls include how to maintain confidentiality, how to handle patient questions, compensation for time spent on phone, what to do if there is no answer, how to maintain interpreter privacy (not reveal interpreter phone number), what if the interpreter does not have access to a private location at an appropriate time, how to submit reports on the phone conversation, etc.