The ED nurse is caring for a client whose native tongue is not English. The client speaks Korean and only understands a few words of English. The nurse understands that which response is best regarding how to communicate with this client?

  • ask a bilingual family member to tell the client to point to where the pain is
  • call the oncology unit and ask for the nurse who is a native Korean to come and translate
  • show the client the equipment before using it, such as indicating that an IV line will be placed in the arm
  • call for an official Korean interpreter on the facility’s translator hotline to communicate with the client, family, and health care provider
Number 4 is correct.
The client has a legal right to receive communications in her native language regarding care. Most facilities have twenty-four hour telephone interpretation services for almost all spoken languages. The interpreter is fluent in medical terminology in all relevant languages and can accurately relay information from the health care provider to the client and/or family. Asking a bilingual family member for assistance is of limited help. The family member may not be able to accurately communicate instructions on describing pain (dull, sharp, radiating) or using the pain scale. Calling another nurse within the facility to translate is problematic. Not only is a nurse being removed from another unit, leaving her clients in the care of other staff, but there is the potential for a lawsuit if she fails to properly translate information. Facility interpreters, including those for deaf clients, should be certified in their language and have ongoing training. They are responsible if information is not properly translated or conveyed to the client. Showing the client equipment to be used and indicating where it will be used may not be effective in cases of elderly clients, those with altered mental status, or those who have not received care in a facility setting prior to the ED admission.