Working with an interpreter involves clear, direct communication.

The Washington State Health Care Authority Interpreter Services Program has developed this checklist for working with an interpreter.

Some items on the checklist:

  • Look and speak directly to the patient, not the interpreter.
  • Please wait for the interpreter you requested before starting the appointment.
  • Always speak in first person, just as you would in a normal conversation.
  • Some terminology may not have an equivalent in the target language. Be prepared to explain some things in more detail, or for the interpreter to ask for clarification.
  • Avoid asking the interpreter for his opinion.
  • Expect the interpreter to leave the room when a provider is not present.

Keeping in mind some health literacy issues published by the American Medical Association about English-speaking patients might be helpful. Watch this video from the AMA: Health Literacy and Patient Safety

These links were verified on March 23, 2020