HIPAA Compliance for Language Service Providers

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HIPAA compliance for language service providers

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HIPAA Compliance for Language Service Providers

Many hospitals, clinics and healthcare facilities rely on language service providers for the means to communicate with their limited English proficiency, Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing clients. The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prohibit the unauthorized sharing of medical records and personal identifiable information without patient consent. So, how do language service providers like Interpreters Unlimited comply with HIPAA?

While health insurance and health care providers are directly covered HIPAA entities, the use of services from interpreters are not necessarily covered. However, the sharing of some information is needed not only for the interpreter to perform his/her job adequately, but also for the medical professional to diagnose or treat the patient. Here is how HIPAA rules apply to language companies:

First, foreign language interpreters are considered business associates under HIPAA legislation because they are not employed by the clinic, medical facility, or hospital utilizing their services.  The sharing of patient information with a business associate (interpreter) is only intended for the specific purpose as stated in a business contract between a provider and hospital or clinic.

Companies like Interpreters Unlimited need to take preventative measures to contract interpreters who are HIPAA trained and qualified. In addition to foreign language competency tests, screening, background checks and reference checks, HIPAA compliance is the best way to guarantee the terms of the contract will not be violated.

It’s also of note that American Sign Language interpreters take an oath to uphold professional code of conduct outlined by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. It is important to know that although this holds no legal merit, violation of the code is considered unethical, and such practices tarnish the interpreter’s reputation and limit ability to gain work as a contractor.

It is a good practice to be familiar with HIPAA policies. It’s recommended for operations and compliance teams to train staff and implement in-house policies to regulate the well-being of patients.

Interpreters Unlimited’s practices are in compliance with HIPAA legislation and RID code of conduct. The contractors with whom we work are screened, trained and tested in-house to ensure the utmost professional services.

For more information about IU’s practices please call 800-726-9891 or send an email to info@iugroup.com.


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