Lost in Translation: The Role of Interpreters on Labor and Delivery

Margot Le Neveu, Zackary Berger, Marielle Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in-person interpreters have been deemed "nonessential,"and thus eliminated to minimize viral exposure and conserve personal protective equipment. Considering alarming patterns of interpreter underuse, we evaluate how substitution for remote modalities (telephone or video) may exacerbate existing inequalities for patients with limited English proficiency. The inherent intimacy, dynamic physicality, and cultural nuances of labor and delivery pose unique communication challenges. Using clinical scenarios, we illustrate the vital role interpreters have in providing accessible obstetric care. We argue that eliminating in-person interpreters in this setting is not justified by COVID-related harms given the potential to exacerbate underlying health disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)406-409
Number of pages4
JournalHealth Equity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • disparities
  • interpreters
  • language barrier
  • obstetric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Information Management


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