Questions for Reflection
Before making your choice, consider the following questions. Below the questions, you can choose to read a detailed response from Kelly to see if you’re on the right track.
We already know there’s a problem in this scenario that has prompted you to have to make a choice. What is that problem? What action would you choose to manage that problem (see options below?
The problem here is a common one: the doctor has asked the interpreter not to interpret what they’re about to say. I chose to switch to third person and explain to the provider that I must interpret everything (then I would interpret my interjection in the patient’s language as well).
What ethical principles are involved with the example scenario given? Which of those ethical principles should have positive outcomes with the option you’re choosing? Which ethical principles do you think might be violated or have negative consequences as a result of your choice?
In this scenario, accuracy/completeness is the first ethical principle that comes to mind. If we do what the doctor asks, we aren’t being complete or transparent. Transparency also has to deal with impartiality; if we’re being one-sided with our transparency, it may not appear impartial to the LEP patient. Heck, it might even look like we’re taking sides with the doctor! I also think this is a matter of professionalism because part of being a professional interpreter is adhering to our codes of ethics and standards of practice. Interpreting everything is a big part of being a professional interpreter! I also think respect plays into this as well, because the provider could feel we’re disrespecting them if we don’t follow their wishes, and the patient could certainly feel disrespected if they’re not having everything interpreted to them. Lastly, maintaining boundaries could be another affected ethical principle. By not interpreting, we’re blurring the boundaries between interpreter and this sort of subservient role to the medical provider. At the end of the day, interpreters aren’t beholden to the desires of the providers they interpret for, but rather to our code of ethics, standards of practice, and professional responsibilities.The ethical principles that should have positive outcomes as a result of the choice I’m making are: accuracy/completeness, impartiality, professionalism, respect, and maintaining boundaries. I like to think that all of these (especially accuracy/completeness) will be positively affected, but this may not happen in all scenarios. I’ve certainly had providers get short with me when reminding them that I have to interpret everything accurately and completely.