Problems and consequences in the use of professional interpreters: qualitative analysis of incidents from primary healthcare

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The aim of this study was to explore what problems are reported by healthcare professionals in primary healthcare concerning the use of interpreters and what the problems lead to. The study involved a single case in a real-life situation with qualitative content analysis of 60 incident reports written by different healthcare professionals. The main problems documented were related to language, such as lack of the interpreters with proficiency in a particular language, and to organisational routines, with difficulties in the availability of interpreters and access to the interpreter agency. The problems reported led to incorrect use of time and resources, which increased the workload and thus delayed treatment. Other consequences were limited possibilities to communicate and thus consultation was carried out without a professional interpreter, using family members instead. The results highlight the importance of developing good co-operation between the interpreter agency and the primary healthcare centre in order to fulfil the existing policy of using professional interpreters to provide the right interpreter at the right time and guarantee high-quality care.

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