Deaf News: Deaf patient in Scottish hospital left without an interpreter for twelve days

Posted on March 28, 2013


A shocking report in the Scotsman has revealed how a Deaf patient was left isolated and unable to communicate for 12 days at a hospital in Scotland because of a failure to provide her with access to a sign language interpreter.

The patient repeatedly asked for an interpreter, but none was provided. Following a complaint, her case has been examined by Scotland’s public services watchdog, who ruled that NHS Tayside failed to adhere to the board’s informed consent policy and found that the failure to obtain a sign language interpreter for the patient was “unacceptable”.

Extract:

The female patient who had been admitted to Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital for surgery to have her appendix removed had a very limited lip reading ability and did not have a good understanding of written English.

And it was “impossible to say” with any certainty whether the deaf patient had given informed consent for the surgery,

Jim Martin, the Scottish public services ombudsman, has ruled that NHS Tayside failed to adhere to the board’s informed consent policy and found that the failure to obtain a sign language interpreter for the patient was “unacceptable”.

He states in his report that a complaint had been raised on behalf of the patient, known as Ms A, that the board failed to provide a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter during her 12-day stay at Ninewells where she had been admitted for surgery to remove her appendix.

Ms A was a BSL user with very limited lip-reading ability. She did not use verbal communication and did not have a good understanding of written English.

Mr Martin states: “Although hospital staff took steps to try to communicate with Ms A, at no point did they provide an interpreter. This was despite Ms A repeatedly pointing to a poster on the wall, which was for interpreter services, and handing staff a BSL interpreter’s card on two separate occasions.”

He continues: “In the course of my investigation I took independent advice from my equality and diversity adviser and a medical adviser. The equality adviser said that staff had not taken reasonable and appropriate steps to obtain a BSL interpreter for Ms A in line with their legal duty to do so under section 20 of the Equality Act 2010. She said that once they had been alerted to Ms A’s need for a BSL interpreter, a clear plan should have been drawn up to try to coordinate the availability of doctors and others communicating with Ms A and a BSL interpreter, sufficiently trained to be able to communicate complex medical issues.”

To read the full article, go to: http://www.scotsman.com/news/health/deaf-patient-denied-interpreter-by-dundee-hospital-1-2862772

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Posted in: deaf news