Legislation addressing health care interpreter standards heard in committee

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The Health and Human Services Committee heard legislation this week to establish a registry for spoken language health care interpreters. The legislation creates a new system for maintaining a list of qualified professionals to improve health care outcomes and safety for patients with limited English proficiency.

Advocates of the bill believe legislation is necessary to establish minimum standards for interpreter services, training, and conduct, and provide a way for people using the services to submit complaints.

The bill distinguishes between three levels of interpreters based on training and certification and establishes an advisory council to advise and make recommendations on the program. Among the requirements enumerated in the bill, interpreters must pass an exam on basic medical terminology, interpreter ethics, and standards of practice. Additional training and certification is required for interpreters seeking a higher professional recognition. The bill is the result of several years of effort to create a process that works for the many language communities here in Minnesota.

The bill passed and was referred to the Judiciary Committee. (SF 875)