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 Medicine

CLAUDIA V. ANGELELLI

Medical interpreting is a fast-growing specialization within the field of interpreting. In our diverse society, cross-linguistic healthcare interactions are the norm rather than the exception. According to the 2000 United States (US) Census Bureau, there are more than 224 languages spoken in California. Important changes within the medical interpreting field and the recent transformation of the population in the United States have been affecting healthcare delivery to limited-English-speaking patients. The change of the population has created numerous challenges evident in all aspects of US society, especially in the delivery of healthcare services. Furthermore, this situation has sparked the gradual emergence of academic questions regarding the nature of communication between healthcare providers and patients.

In addition to the linguistic diversity that extends to the whole of the United States (MLA map, 2008), federal mandates requiring interpreting services for speakers of languages other than English have impacted the healthcare delivery to limited-English-speaking patients. One result is an increasing need for professional interpreters in the medical setting in hospitals all over the United States. In spite of this reality, less than 25% of US hospitals are either staffed with skilled interpreters (Flores 2000) or have an adequate procedure in the system to determine who can perform the job (Angelelli 2003). This diverse situation and the difficulty ...

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