Workers Comp Zone


If you’re a non-English speaking injured worker seeing your doctor, you’d probably assume that the translated communications with your doctor were
not being relayed to others by the interpreter.

In all too many instances you would be wrong.

A source provided me papers that document the practices of 4 translation companies that appear to require interpreters to pass along sensitive information to the insurance adjuster.

Let’s look at the examples.

Example #1 is a company called Optimal Care Transportation and Translation, a Division of MSC. Interpreters who submit invoices for services must include an “Interpretation Summary” in an online field as well as a report on “Work Status”. Translation invoicing instructions specify that the Interpretation Summary is required in order to process the invoice of the interpreter.

Example #2 is a company called 3iCorp. Their “Interpreter Completion Report” has online fields that require information on such topics as “is there anything pending?”, “What occurred at this appointment?, “Were any medications prescribed or refills?” , “Claimant work status” and “Work status specifics. Please specify if return to work dates were mentioned, what type of restrictions etc.” Further, the interpreter was required to report back “Are there any other appointments that are pending for this claimant? Was additional treatment recommended?”.

Example #3 is a company called STOPS. Their interpreter invoice has a “Mandatory description summary” that requires the interpreter to describe the following:
-Injured worker’s status
-Restrictions placed on his activities
-List medication changes since the last visit
-List any treatment recommendations
-Were there any significant happenings at this appointment that the adjuster/case manager should know?

Example #4 is a company known as ProCare Transportation and Language Services. Their interpreter invoice requires the interpreter to provide information on the following:
-patient’s complaint
-diagnosis/doctor’s comments
-work status
-next office visit

Clearly the these companies are abusing the privacy righst of injured workers .Claimants are not advised that their medical discussions with their physicians are being transmitted back to the adjuster. Nor would it appear that physicians are advised of the fact.

Where nurse case managers attend appointments there is no expectation of confidentiality. But there is an expectation of confidentiality when an interpreter is involved.

Another side to the practices is the question of the format in which this data is transmitted to the adjuster. I suspect that much information is being transmitted which is not ultimately produced in response to applicant demands for production of documents in the litigation process.

Perhaps SB 863 will clean up these sordid practices. Labor Code 5811 has been amended to include the following language:
“The duty of an interpreter is to accurately and impartially translate oral communications and transliterate written materials, and not to act as an agent or advocate. An interpreter shall not disclose to any person who is not an immediate participant in the communications the content of the conversations or documents that the interpreter has interpreted or transliterated unless the disclosure is compelled by court order. Any attempt by any party or attorney to obtain disclosure is a bad faith tactic that is subject to Section 5813.”

Presumably Section 5813 applies as of 1/1/13.

But here’s a question for management at Optimal Care,3iCorp, STOPS and ProCare? Will you agree publicly announce your are immediately dropping your “interpreter spy” policies immediately?

I invite your response to the blog.

Julius Young

Category: Understanding the CA WC system