In this thoughtful article, two national language access experts caution against clinicians using second language skills inappropriately when there is inadequate fluency in that second language. Such practices may actually contribute to health disparities through miscommunication and medical errors. The authors argue for the appropriate and safe use of a physician’s own limited second language skills and highlight the importance of using professional health care interpreters to ensure effective communication with limited English proficient patients.
Diamond LC, Jacobs EA. Let’s not contribue to disparities: The best methods for teaching clinicians how to overcome language language barriers to health care. J Gen Internal Med. (2010); 25 (Suppl 2):S189-S193.