Language Barriers Can Be Dangerous in Medical Settings:

Situations that result in a visit to the emergency room are extremely stressful, throwing a language barrier into the already hectic mix can easily send patients and medical workers over the edge if proper precautions are not taken prior to the encounter. When a limited English proficient (LEP) patient enters the emergency room, not only do medical workers have to diagnose and treat the patient but they have to combat the oftentimes dangerous risk factors that accompany language barriers. If a word or concept is misconstrued or poorly interpreted the LEP patient is put at risk of receiving sub par treatment, the wrong treatment, additional injury and in some cases death.

When an interpreter is not provided or an unqualified person is asked to act as an interpreter, medical errors can transpire. It’s important to ensure language gaps are fully bridged in every interaction with LEP patients and the only way to successfully do that is to utilize professional interpretation services. The ER is fast paced and workers should be trained on how to quickly and efficiently access a medical interpreter in times of emergencies. With proper training, planning and the implementation of the right equipment, language barriers in the ER never have to put LEP patients at risk again.

Video Remote Interpreting (VRI):

Video remote interpreting (VRI) is a remote language service that utilizes telecommunication software through a web-based platform to provide sign language or spoken language interpretation services. VRI provides access to interpreters through a user-friendly online portal that can be used for pre-schedule or on-demand appointments. The equipment needed consists of a computer, smartphone or tablet and internet connection with sufficient bandwidth.

The Benefits of Using VRI in the Emergency Room:

Improving patient safety and decreasing wait times involved with using an on-site interpreter are the main goals to accomplish when providing interpretation services in the ER. VRI is a remote interpretation service, so there is always an interpreter available to connect with you regardless of the time or the location you’re in. Due to the fact you’re connecting to an interpreter via the internet, wait times are typically five minutes or less. VRI is an extremely cost effective language solution because you’re only paying for the time spent interacting with the interpreter.   

Optimizing VRI For Emergency Room Usage:

Implementing the proper equipment and training medical staff on how to quickly access an interpreter can set your ER up for success whenever medial workers treat a patient who does not speak English. Many hospitals are using VRI carts, which are basically a tablet attached to a cart on wheels. VRI carts can be swiftly moved from room to room so an interpreter can be accessed wherever the patient is located. Figure out the best place in which to store the VRI cart or perhaps have multiple in different areas of the ER as to ensure the cart can be accessed easily.

Take some time to train and educate employees on exactly how to access an interpreter. Allow them to practice not only retrieving the equipment but actually taking the steps to connect to the interpreter. Allowing them to become familiar with the online portal can ensure they will know what to do when the time comes and that they will feel comfortable and confident in how to successful access the interpreter, language and dialect needed.

Organization and preparation are key in decreasing wait times and optimizing the use of an interpreter in the ER. It’s vital when in emergency situations that communication and understanding be at the forefront of developing a solution to contest the LEP patients sickness or injury. Understanding the protocols involved with using VRI and properly implementing the steps to access an interpreter can significantly reduce stress and the risk of improper treatment. If your hospital is interested in seamless connections with vital medical interpreters, contact Niki’s Int’l Ltd. a professional language service company (LSC) here to ensure you’re getting the most out of your interactions with medical interpreters through VRI in emergency room settings.

Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise with 20 years of language service experience. A global network of highly skilled interpreters and translators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for on-site, telephonic and video remote interpretation services. Our linguists are available in over 350 languages and dialects, and our network includes certified interpreters and translators. Our work is guaranteed with a $1 Million Errors & Omissions policy, so that you can be confident that your project will be completed with the highest level of quality and professionalism within the field. For more information contact us at 1-877-567-8449 or visit our website at

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