John Gonzales
April 26, 2015


A 2010 report, “The High Costs of Language Barriers in Medical Malpractice” in collaboration between the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and National Health Law Program found 35 malpractice claims where there were connections between a lack of medical interpreting and death or other irreparable harm.

Mara Youdelman, managing attorney at the National Health Law Program, said she believes such cases are “vastly underreported.” She said that undocumented immigrants do not seek interpreting services, are confused by the healthcare system, or don’t understand their rights.

Medical providers such as Kaiser Permanente have independent means to certify interpreters. John Pérez, former Speaker of the California state Assembly, successfully led efforts in 2013 and 2014 to pass bills to certify Medi-Cal interpreters, create standards, and increase the supply of interpreters. Toni Atkins has worked on a 2015 bill to create state standards for interpretation through federal funding.

Medical interpreters in short supply as health coverage grows
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Organizations mentioned/involved: National Health Law Program (NHeLP)
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