Interpretive services policy

You need an interpreter whenever a patient requests one, whenever a referring provider's office indicates a language need, or whenever you as a clinician believe that language or cultural differences may be causing a barrier to clear communication between you and your patient.

Legally, you are required to provide language assistance for Limited English Proficient (LEP) patients if you receive federal funds of any kind. Additionally, you are responsible for arranging and paying for necessary interpretive services for Kaiser Permanente members who are under your care.

Federal guidelines

Our interpretive services policy supports the Federal Guidance on Language Access for LEP individuals, otherwise known as Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or country of national origin by any entity that receives federal financial assistance.

According to Title VI, no recipient of federal funding may run its programs in such a way as to discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin. One common form of discrimination on the basis of national origin is ineffective methods of communication between English-speaking staff and LEP patients. To ensure equal access, use trained interpreters.

In accordance with Title VI, Kaiser Permanente is legally required to and requires its contracted providers to provide interpretive services for all patients with communication barriers to ensure they have equal access to services and information. This includes individuals with a primary language other than English and individuals who are Deaf, Deaf Blind, and Hard of Hearing, and applies to everyone, from members seeking care, to members of the community seeking information.

You must provide interpretive services for all interactions between the member and you. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • All appointments with any provider for any covered services
  • Emergency services
  • All steps necessary to file complaints and appeals

When interpretation is provided, a note should be entered in the patient's chart that documents that communication assistance was provided and the quality of the assistance provided. For example: "Patient utilized an (in-person, phone, video-remote) interpreter during today's visit. Staff felt communication (went well, was slightly challenging, was moderately challenging, was very challenging."

Payment for services

There should never be a charge to the person for language services, regardless of enrollment status or coverage. Payment for interpretive services is the responsibility of the contracted provider or the entity where care is delivered.


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