Patient Services,Organizational Services,

Departments & Programs,UW Health

Interpreter Services

Interpreter Services - Departments & Programs, UW Health

It is the policy of UW Health to provide equal access to and equal participation in health care activities for persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, and for persons with limited English proficiency. UW Health provides communication aids and services at no cost to the patient during the course of care as well as during health education programs that are open to the public. It is the policy of UW Health to use qualified medical interpreters.


Scheduling Interpreter Services

To arrange for an interpreter

Interpreter Services receives automatic notification of all outpatient appointments for any patient whose demographic profile indicates that s/he needs an interpreter.

For inpatient needs, special requests, or any other questions/concerns, please call Interpreter Services.

Contact Information

Monday-Friday, 8am-4:30pm:

Monday-Friday, 5pm-7am, weekends and holidays:

When face-to-face interpretation is unavailable

Please contact our video and over-the-phone interpreter service provider, Pacific Interpreters. Delaying a patient appointment because we do not have an interpreter is against the Office for Civil Rights Guidance. If there are special circumstances for an appointment that would make the use of video or phone interpreting very difficult, please contact Interpreter Services.

All clinics should have at least one exam room with appropriate accommodations for Pacific Interpreters use.


Are there any written materials available in Spanish or other languages?

There are Spanish written materials, including forms, available on the Resources tab. These translated materials will provide you with other resources to obtain materials in Spanish.

How can we guarantee that we will have an interpreter at an appointment?

There is no guarantee that there will be an interpreter at an appointment. We always do our very best to get an interpreter for every appointment. However, we have limited interpreter resources and cannot be sure to fill every appointment regardless of language or time frame allowed. We are more likely to have an interpreter if we have advanced notice.

How do I get communication cards to aid in communicating with hard-of-hearing patients?

Interpreter Services can help you out with locating communication cards to help patients who are hard of hearing, as well as arrange a sign interpreter, if necessary. You can call them at 262-9000.

Q. If we do not have an interpreter, should we reschedule the appointment?

A. Because we cannot guarantee that we will have an interpreter at an appointment, we should not reschedule appointments because we lack an interpreter. Pacific Interpreters should be used. Delaying a patient appointment because we do not have an interpreter is against the Office for Civil Rights Guidance. If there are special circumstances for an appointment that would make Pacific Interpreters use very difficult, please contact Interpreter Services.

Q. What if an interpreter at the appointment tells us that s/he will interpret for the patient’s next appointment?

A. It is the interpreter's responsibility to inform Interpreter Services of any appointments they would like to interpret for. You should remind the interpreter to call the Interpreter Services Department with the new appointment information.

Q. What should I do if a patient would like to use a family member as an interpreter and is refusing Pacific Interpreters or the scheduled interpreter?

A. If after being told about his/her right to an interpreter at no charge, a patient refuses our interpreter or Pacific Interpreters, please have the patient sign the Refusal of Interpreter Services form. This is available on the intranet. The form is available in Spanish and English.

Therefore, if a patient speaks a language other than Spanish, the form needs to be explained to the patient through the UW Health approved interpreter or through Pacific Interpreters. Once the patient signs the form, the original form should be placed in the patient's medical records and a copy should be faxed to the Interpreter Services Department at 265-1704. Please call Interpreter Services at 262-9000 to inform us that the patient has signed the refusal form.

Q. What should I do if I disagree with the information an interpreter writes on his/her timesheet that I am signing off on?

A. Please ask the interpreter how s/he arrived at the time on the timesheet. If the interpreter does not correct the timesheet to reflect the appropriate time or if the explanation doesn't seem reasonable, sign off and call Shiva Bidar-Sielaff at 265-7424 or 262-9000 to explain the situation. She will make note and verify accuracy when she receives the timesheet.

Q. What should I do if it is the appointment time, we are ready to start the appointment and the interpreter hasn’t arrived?

A. Please wait until the scheduled appointment time. If the interpreter does not arrive on time, please start the appointment with Pacific Interpreters. If the interpreter arrives a bit late, you can discontinue the Pacific Interpreters call and use the interpreter. If the interpreter arrives at the end of the appointment, please inform him/her of the scheduled appointment time and that his/her services are not needed.

Q. What should I do if we don’t have an interpreter and the exam room does not have a jack or appropriate telephone available?

A. All clinics should have at least one exam room with appropriate accommodations for Language Line or Pacific Interpreters use. Arrangements should be made before the appointment to be sure that the patient will be accommodated. If this issue arises and appropriate accommodations cannot be made, please contact your manager.

Q. What should we do if the interpreter is male and the patient is female (or vice versa)?

A. The interpreters we use are professionals. A female patient at times sees a male doctor and likewise, a female patient may have a male interpreter. If a patient refuses the opposite gender interpreter, Pacific Interpreters should be used. Please let us know about the situation so we can attempt to match interpreter/patient gender in the future, but we cannot guarantee this.

Q. What should we do if the patient has refused interpreter services and we do not think a family member is relaying the appropriate information to the patient?

A. If a provider is concerned about a family member's ability to adequately interpret, we have the right to use one of our interpreters or Pacific Interpreters to verify the interpretation for our protection. Please contact Shiva at 262-9000 if this issue arises.

Q. Why shouldn't we use friends or family members as interpreters?

A. There are many reasons we should not use family members or friends as interpreters: 


Appointment, Registration and Patient Information (Spanish) (UWHC)

Diagnostic and Medical History (Spanish) (UWHC)

New Patient Information Form for Pediatric Specialties (English and Spanish) (UWHC)

Rights and Responsibilities, Disclosure and Refusal (Spanish) (UWHC)


Cultural Congruence


Video Interpreter Services