As you embark on your medical translation project, knowing how various laws and regulations will impact your project is important. There are many medical translation requirements put forth by various federal, state, or other administrative agencies that your organization will need to meet. Below is an overview of four major laws, standards, and healthcare regulations that may apply to your project. 

Healthcare Regulations: Joint Commission Standards

The Joint Commission has communication and language standards to ensure that Limited English Proficient (LEP) patients receive a high level of care.

Hospitals and healthcare organizations seeking Joint Commission accreditation must comply with these standards, which include:

  • Translating written documentation (forms, instructions, documents, signage, etc.) into threshold languages, determined by population demographics
  • Training caregivers and health professionals to be culturally sensitive when communicating with different ethnic and cultural groups
  • Determining whether the patient needs assistance completing admission forms
  • Communicating information about unique patient needs to the care team

By creating the communication and language standards, the Joint Commission took an important step toward facilitating improved patient-provider interaction. When patients can communicate, understand, and follow instructions in their own language, there is less chance of medical misunderstandings and errors that can affect a patient’s health outcome.

If your organization is at risk of non-compliance with the Joint Commission’s healthcare regulations, it could hurt federal funding per Title VI regulations. 

The Bottom line: Healthcare organizations need to comply with the Joint Commission’s Standards to maintain their accreditation.

Healthcare Regulations: Healthcare Compliance Laws

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires that any organization, including those in the healthcare industry, must not discriminate based on race, color, or national origin. 

All 50 states have additional laws that address language access in healthcare settings. Seventeen states have language access laws for insurance providers and/or managed care organizations, some are broader than others. For instance, all California health plan providers must offer translation and language assistance services in multiple languages to their LEP and NEP enrollees.

The Bottom Line: Not being able to clearly communicate with LEP or non-English proficient patients could put you in violation of these laws

Healthcare Regulations: HIPAA

Just as your employees must be HIPAA-trained, so should your medical translators be. HIPAA specifically applies to how a healthcare organization can communicate patient-specific information with a certified medical translator. To comply with HIPAA healthcare regulations during your translation project, your LSP should have a secure way of transmitting information and documents to avoid violating the law.

The Bottom line: Make sure that patient and client information is kept confidentially during the translation process.

Healthcare Regulations: Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA requires that businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve the public, such as healthcare organizations, communicate effectively with people who have communication disabilities. 

As a hospital or medical provider, this healthcare regulation means providing people who have communication disabilities with alternatively formatted documents. Alternative formats include braille, large print, accessible PDFs, or audio files of text being read aloud, amongst other things.

The Bottom Line: Check with your translation provider about alternative formats and accessible PDFs.

Healthcare regulations may seem complicated, but an LSP specializing in healthcare, such as Avantpage, can make compliance easy. We can help you get started on your next healthcare translation project. Call us at 530-750-2040, or request a free quote today.

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