Language Access Services - Practitioners Communicating Directly with Patients

Are there any Joint Commission standards that prohibit a bilingual practitioner (nurse, physician, etc) from communicating directly with a patient in their preferred language while providing care without the presence of an interpreter?

There are no standards that prohibit a bilingual practitioner from communicating directly with a patient in another language while providing care, treatment or services. However, it is recommended that the organization has a process to make sure that communication with the patient in the non-English language is effective and meets the patient’s needs. For example, the organization can determine if a language proficiency assessment is necessary to make sure the bilingual provider is able to communicate effectively or may consider using an interpreter to validate the patient's understanding of the information provided by the bilingual provider and communicate further information as needed.
Additional Resources:
 The American Medical Association’s Promoting Appropriate Use of Physicians’ Non-English Language Skills in Clinical Care: A White Paper of the Commission to End Health Care Disparities provides guidance for physicians on the appropriate use of their non-English language skills when caring for patients with limited English proficiency.
Last updated on May 19, 2017
Manual: Behavioral Health
Chapter: Rights and Responsibilities of the Individual RI

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