Interpreters: a double-edged sword in nursing practice

H J Maltby
Journal of Transcultural Nursing: Official Journal of the Transcultural Nursing Society 1999, 10 (3): 248-54
The provision of health services for all Australians is based on equality of access to health care services, regardless of cultural origin or linguistic skill, and on the responsibility of the health system to respond appropriately. Lack of fluency in the English language and lack of bilingual or multilingual nurses are major sources of miscommunication, even with the use of interpreters and translated health information. Many immigrant women find the use of interpreters unacceptable. Nurses are concerned with legal issues. These two viewpoints make the use of interpreters a double-edged sword in practice. The findings of recent research and the literature in relation to language skills and the use of interpreters and translations in the Australian context are explored. Potential resolutions for transcultural nursing practice are provided.

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