Strategies when English-as-a-Second-Language creates obstacles
By Joyce Salyers, BSN, RN, LNC, CCM
No hablo Ingles.
не говорю по-английски.
난 영어 못해요.
No matter what the language, “I don’t speak English” probably translates into higher costs and more time necessary to resolve your workers compensation claims.
Awareness of these factors and savvy strategies to manage them will help you contain your costs. Here are a couple of issues involving your non-English speaking IW and ways to translate them into a successful RTW
- Interpretation. Communication between the IW and the medical providers is key to a successful RTW. But this process slows and falters when the IW is not fluent in English.Solutions? The use of a certified medical interpreter at all medical appointments can help relay subjective information from the IW to the provider and ensure adequate understanding of all care instructions from the provider to the IW. Working with an interpreter slows an appointment and requires patience because everything must be said twice, but there is no shortcutting this process to ensure adequate understanding in the medical information exchange.
- Transportation and Housing. Non-English speaking workers are often in the US as part of a seasonal work crew with no access to independent individual transportation. Their employer might provide transportation to medical appointments, but if the crew moves on to another location, then medical transportation must be arranged for appointments, picking up prescriptions and the like. The same is true for housing. The IW may lose the assistance and companionship of fellow workers who relocate to follow the work while they stay behind to receive medical care. Buttoning a shirt or preparing a meal isn’t so simple with a broken arm and no one around to help.Solutions? A reliable medical transportation company, ideally with a bilingual dispatcher, will ease transportation challenges. Sitter or home health aide services may be necessary for basic assistance with ADLs when the IW has no local family or friends. Housing the IW close to the medical providers keeps transportation costs in check. The use of community resources such as churches and same language social groups help to fill in the gap of emotional support when the IW is far from home.
A language barrier need not be a barrier to successful and timely resolution of your claim. With attention to a few details, you will know that a prompt “Return to work, without restrictions” is possible to hear…in any language.
Joyce Salyers, BSN, RN, LNC, CCM, is a Legal Nurse Consultant with MKC Medical Management. Contact Joyce at firstname.lastname@example.org and 865-551-6800.