In these situations I feel it is my duty to try to reach out to each patient from where they are coming room. If I have a patient who does not speak English utilize a trained interpreter or our Curaçao phone to help communicate with my patient. Sometimes this can be time consuming and put us behind schedule. We only have one interpreter and she is eve busy so sometimes we have to wait quite awhile for her to be available. This can put our providers behind schedule.
It is very tempting in these situations to allow an employee who is not a trained interpreter but speaks the same language, or a family member to interpret. However, this does not follow clinic protocol and therefore is unethical. I work n an internal medicine clinic and most of our patients have multiple health issues. It would be very unfortunate if we missed a subtle but important change in the patient’s health history because we didn’t wait for the trained medical interpreter.
The ethical dilemma in this situation is whether I should wait for the appropriate interpreter and potentially run the risk of frustrating sick patients who have to wait a long time to see their backed up provider, frustrate staff members who may not get a full lunch break or have to stay late because or utilize an inappropriate interpreter and take the chance of going something important in the translation. In my opinion, everyone deserves the best possible medical care regardless of where they are from or what language they speak. Legalize that morals are a very personal thing and that my morals may be different from the people I am caring for. I cannot let this change the way treat my patients. Sometimes this can be very difficult. When I worked in the operating room We had many traumas involving gang members who had been shot while committing a crime. We still had to work just as hard to save these people as we would anyone else. We used a lot of resources and did what we could to save them. I always found it startling how the staff members in the OR would talk about these people as we worked on them.
I get that they are criminals but they are also human beings. Are job was to keep them alive, not judge them. This said, I had a situation that really caught me off guard and made it very difficult for my to be kind to this patient. I grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in a suburb of Chicago in the ass’s. Almost everyone I knew had a family member who was a concentration camp sun,’ivory. It was an everyday occurrence to see an older person with the dreaded “tattoo” on their forearms. While interviewing my patient before going back to the OR we were talking and everything was fine.
It wasn’t until had to check her leg to make sure the surgery site was marked that I noticed she had a portrait tattoo of Doll Hitler. I was astounded. She had seemed perfectly polite and appropriate. Suddenly I could hardly look at her. I’m sure my voice became very short and clipped. Once we got her to sleep I couldn’t stop talking (to anybody who would listen) about how appalled I was with her tattoo and her probable belief system. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that I really let my own feelings interfere with the best possible treatment of my patient.
The ethical dilemma in this situation is, should we treat unkind people the way we treat we would want to be treated. I feel very strongly about respecting others cultural beliefs, even when it comes to health choices made that may not think are the best thing for the patient. The only time I really struggle with this is when the men in a family want to make health decisions for the women. My personal opinion is “if it’s not your body, stay out of it”. However, unless the woman is being physically abused, it’s none of my business.
All I can do is give them the best possible information regarding their health, educate them in a culturally sensitive manner and offer them appropriate resources; the rest is up to them. Some days it can be very had to take others morals, values and ethics into consideration. I really try’ to remember to treat others the way they want to be treated and not necessarily the way want to be treated. For someone as opinionated as me, this can be a struggle. Everyday is a new chance to do the best I can for my patients and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to do so.