ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

When Medical Interpreters Must Share Bad News

Updated on January 21, 2018
JWAlfonso profile image

Jeff is Founder of Alfonso Interpreting for over 11 years. He is a CCHI Certified Healthcare interpreter & Authorized OSHA Outreach trainer

Data from Star Trek had the ability to turn off his emotions. We cannot!
Data from Star Trek had the ability to turn off his emotions. We cannot! | Source

1.When the Interpreter must give Bad News!

I was interpreting for a patient at a doctor’s appointment. The doctor entered the room and in a very clear, straight forward way, told the patient that he had tried everything he reasonably knows and there is nothing more he can do for the patient. The patient would be sent for a functional capacity test and his impairment rating would be calculated.

The news was devastating for the patient. He shook his head and gasped. His daughter began to cry. She begged the doctor saying “Is that it? I see how much pain he has to live with every day! You can’t do anything else? You’re a doctor! You’re supposed to help people!”

The doctor simply repeated what he said and pointed out that he did not need surgery. The family was in shock, devastated.

My job as an interpreter is to communicate what is being said in an unbiased manner. My training and knowledge of the importance to maintain neutrality helped me to do my job. That didn’t make it any easier. Most of the time I love my work, but that was not one of those moments. I am a human being, not a robot, and so I could not escape feeling compassion for this grieving family.

It is not my place, nor am I qualified, to question the medical professional’s decision or bedside manner. I am aware that my service helps all parties involved to make decisions based on knowledge, and I cannot interfere with that process. I do wish at times though that I could turn off my emotions like Data (the android) in Star Trek

As I mentioned, at times I have had to interpret bad news to patients.

2.When the doctor has to give bad news.

I have had many conversations with different doctors, some of whom have been accused of being in the insurance company’s pocket. After long conversations, my feeling is that these doctors are doing what they judge to be right. Some might say that they are not trying every possible solution. The defense is that they are being realistic. I have heard complaints of doctors being cold, harsh and rude. The doctors feel that they are honest and do not gloss over bad news. They are trying to help the patient see the truth.

People are driven to become doctors in order to help others. Just like the country is politically fractured into two opposing philosophies, conservative and liberal, democrat and republican, doctors also have different views on how to best treat a patient. They will always have critics. I’m sure no doctor enjoys giving the patient bad news. As an interpreter, my job is to facilitate vital communication. It is not my place to voice my opinion about how a doctor practices medicine. When the patient is given bad news, I feel bad for the doctor also, the one having to give the bad news.

3.The Nurse case Manager and Bad News

Just like doctors, nurses have a code of ethics. They are advocates for the patient. Their goal is to help the patient recover. Case managers work for the insurance company. They are somewhat like mediators for the insurance company. They coordinate all the services the patient will need, a vital service for recovery. They help the insurance company make decisions as to whether or not a course of treatment is appropriate. They can only make recommendations. Although they must face it on a regular basis, nurse case managers do not enjoy seeing the patient get bad news.
Imagine if this system of workers’ comp was not in place. Without insurance there is no money. Without money, treatment from a doctor cannot be sought. There would be no nurses or case managers and no interpreters. In some countries, when a person is injured, there is no help whatsoever or any type of compensation. The workers comp system might be perceived as unjust but at least something is in place to help the injured worker.

It can be quite easy to judge medical professionals and attribute bad motives; the challenge is to stay impartial. We all have a vital role to play.

© 2018 Jeff Alfonso

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)