Use of Medical Interpreters in the Emergency Department

Originally approved June 2022


The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) supports the use of qualified medical interpreters for emergency department patient interactions with patients showing limited English proficiency. ACEP supports the following medical interpretation concepts:

  • That professional or qualified interpreters be utilized whenever feasible and available during encounters with patients showing limited English proficiency or hearing impairment.
  • That a modality of interpretation (e.g., in-person, video, telephonic) be selected that best fits the clinical situation.
  • That all patients requiring or requesting interpretation services be granted access to professional or qualified interpretation services unless an alternative preference is stated.
    • Friends, relatives, and other non-professional interpreters should only be used if the patient states a desire or preference for the stated individual(s).
  • That ad-hoc interpretation be considered only for situations in which profession or qualified interpretation is either impractical or unavailable.
  • That hospitals and departments identify a standardized yet time reasonable mechanism by which individuals, including emergency physicians, are or may be identified as qualified medical interpreters.
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