Archive October 2018 XIX, No. 10

Ideas That Work: Deaf Patients

Sign Language Interpreters in the OR

NATURAL WORKFLOW
University of North Florida
SIGN OF THE TIMES Use a sign language interpreter when caring for deaf patients.

If you've ever treated deaf patients, you know how difficult it can be to communicate with them. It can be a struggle to convey even the simplest things, like asking them to undress or to sign the consent form. You can write notes on a white board, but wouldn't it be great if you invited a sign language interpreter into the OR? Tips for doing it right:

  • The OR staff should talk to the patient, not the interpreter. Position the interpreter behind and to the right of the nurse or anesthesia provider so that the patient can look at whom is speaking — even though he can't read his lips — but also have a clear view of the interpreter.
  • The interpreter should be at the patient's bedside in PACU to reassure and comfort him as he emerges from anesthesia.

Linda Connelly, PhD, MSH, ARNP, CNOR
University of North Florida
Jacksonville, Fla.
lconnell@unf.edu

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