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Hosp Community Psychiatry. 1991 Feb;42(2):163-5.

The problem with interpreters: communicating with Spanish-speaking patients.

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  • 1Bellevue Hospital Center, New York City.


The information obtained from a non-English-speaking psychiatric patient through an untrained interpreter can be inaccurate and misleading. The authors briefly outline the most common errors that untrained interpreters make, including omission, addition, condensation, substitution, and role exchange. They present two case examples, one in which misinterpretation led to minimization of a patient's suicide attempt and the other in which a patient's suicidality was exaggerated. They conclude that clinicians should observe the behaviors of both the patient and the interpreter for indications of errors that might distort or obscure the communication.

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  • Problems with interpreters. [Hosp Community Psychiatry. 1991]
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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