Scenario Series: What Would You Do? Scenario # 4

Apr 5, 2022 | Interpreter Education

by: Lisa Hendrickson, CI - NIR Interpreter Coordinator

Continuing this series, we will dive into yet another hypothetical interpreting scenario including an ethical dilemma to ponder.

Previous blogs in this series mention that people are often faced with ethical dilemmas—some big, some small—that we must negotiate through and/or around. For these daily dilemmas, we have our beliefs and values to guide us, cultivated as we have navigated the passing years.

Ethical dilemmas in the “workplace” are certainly no exception to this tendency, and many fields have additional tools to assist in the decision-making process. Numerous professions have codes of conduct to assist in guiding its members toward the best possible decisions; the field of interpreting has the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct (CPC) for this purpose.

For this series, we will look at a hypothetical interpreting scenario, and then investigate which Tenets/Illustrative Behaviors of the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct (CPC) may help us decide the best possible course of action. Exploring these scenarios, and applying the CPC, can help us prepare for situations that may arise in our daily work.

Remember, there are no wrong answers! Let’s take a look at Scenario #4 and apply the Tenets/Illustrative Behaviors of the CPC:

Scenario # 4

You are interpreting at a hospital for a patient who is scheduled for an emergency surgery later the same day. During your shift, you interpret as the surgeon explains the surgery, and indicates it is very low risk and that there is no need for concern. The patient asks about the verbiage on the consent form which states that the surgery could result in incapacitation or fatality. The surgeon reiterates that the procedure is low risk, and that the form is just a formality for insurance purposes. The patient accepts this explanation, and willingly signs the consent form.

As you are leaving, and waiting at the elevator, which is near the nursing station, you overhear a phone conversation on speaker between the surgeon and the patient’s daughter. They are discussing the dire situation, and are both in agreement that it is best not to tell the patient that her chances of survival are slim

Let’s now look at the CPC to see which Tenets/Illustrative Behaviors may help us decide how to proceed if faced with a similar situation:

1.0 Confidentiality

Tenet: Interpreters adhere to standards of confidential communication.

Illustrative Behavior: 1.1 – Share assignment-related information only on a confidential and “as-needed” basis (eg., supervisors, interpreter team members, members of the educational team, hiring entities).

2.0 Professionalism

Tenet: Interpreters possess the professional skills and knowledge required for the specific interpreting situation.

Illustrative Behavior: 2.2 – Assess consumer needs and the interpreting situation before and during the assignment and make adjustments as needed.

3.0 Conduct

Tenet: Interpreters conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to the specific interpreting situation.

Illustrative Behavior: 3.3 – Avoid performing dual or conflicting roles in interdisciplinary (e.g. educational or mental health) or other settings.

Illustrative Behavior: 3.4 – Comply with established workplace codes of conduct, notify appropriate personnel if there is a conflict with this Code of Professional Conduct, and actively seek resolution where warranted.

4.0 Respect for Consumers

Tenet: Interpreters demonstrate respect for Consumers.

Illustrative Behavior: 4.2 – Approach consumers with a professional demeanor at all times.

Illustrative Behavior: 4.4 – Facilitate communication access and equality, and support the full interaction and independence of consumers.

These are just a few possible examples of Tenets/Illustrative Behaviors that may help an interpreter decide how best to proceed if faced with a similar situation to the above scenario. If you find other Tenet(s)/Illustrative Behaviors that you think apply to Scenario # 3, please feel free to add that information in the comments section below.

Stay tuned for more interpreting scenarios to come!

Nationwide Interpreter Resources

(888) NIR-9788