Michigan developing regulations to govern difficult area of deaf and hard-of-hearing interpreter services
New regulations are coming in Michigan that govern the way in which hospitals, physician offices, pharmacies and other medical businesses offer interpreter services to the deaf and hard of hearing.
And the proposed regulations — covering video remote conferencing, minimum educational requirements, credentials, testing standards, continuing education, and license suspension and revocation — appear to be long in the making.
In 2007, the Michigan Legislature approved Public Act 23 and 24 that required the state Division on Deaf and Hard of Hearing to draft the qualified interpreter general rules (2007-047 CR).
While the deaf and hard-of-hearing division began the regulatory rule process, Dan Levy, director for law and policy with the MichiganDepartment of Civil Rights, said proposed rules weren't developed until late last year after the division was merged into the civil rights department.
"The division worked with the hard of hearing community (for several years), but were unable to come up with something everybody wanted," Levy said.
Earlier this year, the civil rights department developed proposed regulations and presented them to the state Legislature for approval. Three public hearings were held in March that drew objections from hospitals and other medical providers, he said.
Levy said the department withdrew the proposed rules in June and is nearing completion of a new set of proposed rules. He said they could be ready for publication in the next month, with public hearings likely to be scheduled by the end of this year or early spring.
"I worked with the state civil rights department to talk about concerns the health care community had about putting these regulations into practice," said Laura Napiewocki, attorney with Troy-based Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman P.C.
"We are working through a number of issues" that include when a video remote interpreter can be used instead of a live interpreter and minimum educational and medical knowledge requirements of the interpreters, Napiewocki said.
Marco Capicchioni, vice president of facility services with Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, said the knowledge of medical terminology of interpreters is critical to successful communication. He said knowledge standards should be high.
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