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Unread 02-14-2012, 06:14 PM   #1
Melissa91
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Pharmacy Interpreting

Hello everyone,

I am very excited that I discovered this website. It seems very friendly and a great place to learn more about Deaf culture! (I'm hearing but doing my best to learn ASL.)

I have a question I would to ask. For a bit of background, I am currently in Pharmacy school, and will be a licensed pharmacist in three years. It's a lot of work, and I'm trying to keep up with my signing. I go to Deaf Coffees in my area when I have the time.

I met a hearing interpreter a while ago and he told me that I should never use ASL while working in a pharmacy. He said it would be illegal because I'm not a licensed ASL interpreter, and that I could kill somebody if I gave them the wrong medical information. As you can imagine, this really upset me, because I love the language and would like to be able to sign at work if I had a Deaf patient.

What do you think?

1. Does anyone know if it is illegal for me, as a licensed pharmacist but unlicensed interpreter, to attempt to sign to a patient/customer?

2. If you needed to get a prescription from a pharmacy, would you personally like it if the pharmacist attempted to communicate using sign language, or would you see it as a risk/annoyance? (Medicine instructions are also written on bottles, if there was misunderstanding.)

3. Although it's unlikely others nearby would know ASL, would you be concerned about privacy if I signed medical information where others could "eavesdrop?"

4. Is it common to bring an interpreter with you to a pharmacy? I've never seen a Deaf person do this, but I'm just curious.

5. Please feel free to give me any advice or share any stories about what it is like to go to a pharmacy or to the doctor as a Deaf or HOH person. I want to do the right thing and would like to combine my work as a pharmacist with my love of sign language, but ONLY IF it is in the best interest of the patient.

I only numbered the above questions for convenience, you don't need to respond to all. I will be grateful for any response as I am very puzzled about this.
for your help!
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Unread 02-18-2012, 09:11 PM   #2
Anij
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa91 View Post
Hello everyone,

1. Does anyone know if it is illegal for me, as a licensed pharmacist but unlicensed interpreter, to attempt to sign to a patient/customer?
Depends on the situation ... if you're signing to say hi and chat it's fine ... as part of an actual "consult" you could get yourself in a LOAD of legal and ethical trouble and possibly seriously injury someone (unless you are absolutely fluent, and then I would make sure that you took legal steps and certifications to allow you to be able to offer medical/pharm advice using ASL).
You'd likely also want to have them sign a short waiver stating that you have advised them that you are not a certified/licensed interpreter, and that any information you offer in ASL is unofficial and to be regarded as supplementary to any written instructions and if there is any discrepancies the written information should be taken as correct.

Quote:
2. If you needed to get a prescription from a pharmacy, would you personally like it if the pharmacist attempted to communicate using sign language, or would you see it as a risk/annoyance? (Medicine instructions are also written on bottles, if there was misunderstanding.)
"Attempt" no - If you are not fluent in ASL, haven't taken specific courses on medical terminology etc in ASL then I don't really think it's a good idea. It's one thing for the person at Starbucks to "attempt" to communicate with my in ASL to take my coffee order - the worst that can happen is I get a different drink and they have to remake it ... in the case of medicine - a mistake or poorly explained concept could have severe consequences including pregnancy (antibiotics & birth control), hospitalization (mixing meds, dosing issues, etc), or even death ... you could, and may be sued for any of these situations if you are interpreting (written English, to ASL) without certifications and explicit permission from your employer.

If the pharmacist is completely fluent (CODA etc) then they could say (using ASL) something like "I'm not legally allowed to explain dosing etc instructions, conflicts/side effects etc in ASL because I'm not a certified interpreter, however once we walk through the instructions in writing, if you have any aspects that need to be clarified we can unofficially discuss it in ASL "as friends", not as your pharmacist.

Quote:
3. Although it's unlikely others nearby would know ASL, would you be concerned about privacy if I signed medical information where others could "eavesdrop?"
I don't think that's really a concern - mainly because use ASLers know proper ASL etiquette and don't look at other conversations. Hearing people might look - but honestly, if they don't know enough to know it's rude, they also likely don't know enough to know what's being said.

4. Is it common to bring an interpreter with you to a pharmacy? I've never seen a Deaf person do this, but I'm just curious.

No, but it is common for us to call back if we have questions using relay, or video relay services and want to talk with the pharmacist.

It would be BETTER for you to create an environment that is Hoh/d/Deaf friendly by educating all the pharmacy staff about how to correctly answer and place calls using relay services, how to communicate effectively with speech-readers.
You may also want to create a special waiver form for Hoh/d/Deaf clients that would state that you are authorized to release medication information to a "third party" if the Hoh/d/Deaf person calls through a relay service, or asks specific friends/family member to call on their behalf (listing name & phone and a "code word/phrase" such as: "John Doe @ 111 222 3333, code word/phrase " ASL PAH!"). This way Hoh/d/Deaf know that they are easily able to contact your pharmacy for additional instructions on medication use that you will take and handle the calls in a straightforward manner.

Quote:
5. Please feel free to give me any advice or share any stories about what it is like to go to a pharmacy or to the doctor as a Deaf or HOH person. I want to do the right thing and would like to combine my work as a pharmacist with my love of sign language, but ONLY IF it is in the best interest of the patient.
If you really want to be able to do both - that is Pharmacy and use ASL as a dispensing and consulting language, I'd contact the pharmacy board in your area and ask what you need to legally do to be able to do that. They may require specific courses be taken (likely 2+ years worth of university ASL, in addition to passing specific ASL examinations related to pharmacy/medication/and anatomy vocabulary and usage).
I'd also contact RID or interpreters organizations in your area and ask what courses/classes might be available for pharmacology, medical terminology, anatomy, mathes (weights, measures, lengths, etc) for those who are not interpreters. Theses classes would be very helpful for you regardless if you (initially) are able to use ASL in a "professional situation" so I'd recommend looking into them as a matter of personal interest if nothing more.

HTH
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Unread 02-18-2012, 09:23 PM   #3
Angel1989
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This is all great advice. Always get a signed waiver. In our pharmacy this was a rule. You have them sign the waiver that they picked up the meds and that you went over all the instructions. These signatures are very useful and necessary. The HIPPA laws very from state to state. Good Luck. Get a good pair of comfy shoes.:-)
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Unread 02-18-2012, 09:28 PM   #4
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I don't want to die!!!


Let's just write things down carefully!
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Unread 02-18-2012, 09:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bottesini View Post
I don't want to die!!!


Let's just write things down carefully!
((hugs)) It's ok Botts !

I think that we should all be very very thankful that this person is wise enough, and responsible enough to ask these questions now, long before they are in a pharmacy facing this situation for real.

It's a very valid question they asked, and I'm glad they asked so that we can give our opinions etc.

It would be far more scary/dangerous if they posted 3 years from now saying that they were already DOING this, had been told it was wrong, and then came here asking if it really was wrong or if it was ok.

Right ??
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Unread 02-18-2012, 09:45 PM   #6
Bottesini
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anij View Post
((hugs)) It's ok Botts !

I think that we should all be very very thankful that this person is wise enough, and responsible enough to ask these questions now, longer before they are in a pharmacy facing this situation for real.

It's a very valid question they asked, and I'm glad they asked so that we can give our opinions etc.

It would be far more scary/dangerous if they posted 3 years from now saying that they were already DOING this, had been told it was wrong, and then came here asking if it really was wrong or if it was ok.

Right ??
Quite true.
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Unread 02-18-2012, 09:50 PM   #7
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So right. Get everything in writing. We find doctor errors while doing a consult. Doctor writes one thing on the prescription and told the patient another way. Then we call the doctor to verify and make a note on the prescription. Always keep good records so they do not bite you in the butt later. Make sure the patient understands everything before leaving and get a signature.
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Unread 12-04-2012, 03:35 AM   #8
KAMMsTheACE
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Pharmacy Technician Wanting to use ASL

Hey! I've got a follow-up question!

Let me preface this by saying I'm hearing and far from fluent in ASL. I chose ASL as my FL requirement in college because I've always been interested & had the desire to be fluent. I took two semesters of ASL. My BIGGEST mistake was not using ASL within the deaf community. I was mainly scared because & didn't want to offend (silly, I know). Plus, I'm the type that hates to show inadequacy. I was insecure & let most of what I learned go to waste.

However, I now find myself in situations where utilizing ASL would be more than useful. I'm now a Geek Squad agent at Best Buy & a pharmacy technician at Walgreems. I was called to the computer dept. recently at BBY to help a deaf couple. It went pretty well but I noticed how much I'd forgotten.

A couple of months ago, a deaf patient came into our Rx & I was able to help him. He was so shocked and SO thrilled that I was able to communicate with him using ASL. It didn't even register with him at first, as he continued miming until a beat later when he realized I was signing. He broke out in a HUGE smile and asked how I knew ASL. I explained and he thanked me profusely. His reaction is what pushed me into finally getting my act together and back on the path to fluency.

What I realized during that short (less than 3 minutes) interaction was that I knew zero pharmacy terminology. So I ended up finger spelling a lot, and my FS isn't even decent anymore. He was patient and encouraging though. Until I read this thread I hadn't even thought of the legal ramifications of using ASL in a pharmacy/medical setting, but now totally understand what you all are saying. I think it may be a bit different for me as I'm not a pharmacist, and as such am not allowed to legally give advice or answer questions related to drugs (OTC or Rx) anyway. Even the simplest questions like, "is it OK to give Tylenol to an 8 year old?" The box says yes, and I know for the most part the answer is yes, but legally I can't tell the patient yes.

My job, in regards to patients, is to take their prescriptions at 'drop-off,' & hand them and ring out their prescriptions at 'pickup.' These processes can involve asking for sensitive information such as DOB, address, allergies, insurance info, communicating wait time, costs, etc.

So I have two questions for you all:

1. In your opinion, is it OK, under these circumstances & restrictions, to communicate using ASL?
2. How do you suggest I improve my Rx ASL/learn more Rx terminology?

Thank you in advance for your responses as I'm grateful for any help or advice given! :O)

-KAMMS
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Unread 03-01-2013, 04:51 PM   #9
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KAAMS~

I have been in the same situation. I was a pharmacy tech for 8 years and I have a degree in Sign Language Interpretation. I am a certified pharmacy tech not yet a certified interpreter. When I was in the pharmacy I would do the general pharmacy duties (accepting a rx, asking DOB, Ins,...selling the rx) in sign language but the very first thing I would say after introductions is that I am not certified. I would use signs for as much as I was comfortable and if things were getting to a place that I was not comfortable either ethically as an interpreter or as a pharmacy tech (similar boundaries) I would let them know. I have interpreted for the pharmacist before but it was basic questions that I knew I could interpret, "do I take this with food?" Most of the time the Deaf person is just so excited you know sign they do not care about talking about the pharmacy, they just want to talk and get to know you.

Pharmacy Terminology-Keep one thing in mind, you may take classes and learn all of these wonderful pharmacy signs and be able to explain anything that you want in sign language but does the Deaf person know those signs? Before you go off and learn a lot of RX Sign Terminology I think you should make sure you are comfortable in basic ASL. If you are not comfortable there it may be dangerous (legally) to learn the pharmacy signs and not be able to use them correctly. After you 'master' ASL you can take RX terminology workshops hopefully in your area. One last thought, think about if you were speaking French and you knew all the pharmacy words but you could not hold a basic conversation. The complications that could arise could be similar, but hold legal ramifications.
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