Interpreter Services helps patients receive care in more than 50 languages

Cancer knows no language barrier, which is why Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is committed to ensuring all patients, regardless of their native language, are able to fully understand their diagnosis and treatment options.

Dana-Farber’s Interpreter Services provides language assistance services to patients and families who do not speak English, have limited English proficiency, or are deaf and hard of hearing, ensuring effective communication and understanding across languages and cultures.

“Our department is committed to ensuring that our patients with limited English proficiency receive equitable access to care, thereby playing a role in alleviating racial and ethnic disparities in cancer care,” said Nina Scott, Manager of Dana-Farber’s Interpreter Services team. 

Provided at no cost to patients and families, language assistance is offered via in-person interpreters, or by video or phone to all patients. Dana-Farber patients speak over 50 languages, all of which can be translated by the team of professionals.

 “Effective communication and understanding between patient and provider are essential to safe, quality healthcare,” said Scott. “For patients whose preferred language is not English, medical interpreters make communication with members of the care team possible.  By interpreting conversations and interactions, translating written information, explaining cultural preferences, and advocating for patients and families, interpreters and translators help Dana-Farber provide culturally and linguistically appropriate care.”

Professionally trained language interpreters are especially important in a medical setting. Patients who don’t speak English as a primary language sometimes depend on family or friends to help them communicate. While this may meet day-to-day needs, a family member or friend may have a hard time interpreting medical words or describing medical procedures. This can result in confusion and misunderstanding. The Dana-Farber Interpreter Services team is there to ensure patients and families receive all information and have a total understanding of the situation they face.

Even patients who speak English as a second language sometimes find, especially during a serious illness, an explanation in their native language to be easier to fully comprehend.

Ensuring all patients have access to care is at the heart of Dana-Farber’s mission, and is an essential part of its commitment to providing high quality care to the community.