What We Can Do
One of the primary purposes of the IMIA Ethics Disciplinary Program is to protect the public. It is our function and our duty to enforce the IMIA Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice or Rules of Professional Conduct , which is the standard of conduct for medical interpreters in the performance of their work.
If we determine that the medical interpreter about whom you complained has violated the Code of Conduct of Standards of Practice, we will take action which will result in the medical interpreter being privately or publicly criticized. If the violation of the Code or Standards Conduct is very serious, the interpreter’s IMIA membership may be temporarily or even permanently taken from him or her. However, that action may not solve your own personal problem, as you will learn when you read the next section.
What We Cannot Do
The disciplinary process is set up to determine if a medical interpreter has violated the IMIA Code of Ethics or Standards of Practice. It is not a substitute for a civil claim against the medical interpreter. We cannot give you legal advice and cannot modify or change a court order.
We cannot take money or property from the medical interpreter to return to you. We cannot sue a medical interpreter because of his or her careless behavior. The only action we can take is to impose disciplinary sanctions against the medical interpreter if they are a member of the IMIA in good standing.
By bringing a grievance to us, you help us learn of medical interpreters who need to be corrected or suspended from membership. This helps us keep the medical interpreter profession honorable and competent. In that way, you help yourself, your friends and your community, and mostly the patients that need to be protected from a patient safety perspective.
Note to IMIA members: It is the duty of all members to come forward with evidence of perceived violations of the Code of Ethics. However, each IMIA member should be mindful of his or her professional obligations regarding confidentiality and possible sanctions for abuse of the complaint procedures. Your agreement above signifies that the complaint is brought to the Ethics Committee in good faith and not for the purpose of resolving private business, legal, or other disputes for which more appropriate forums exist.
Before Filing a Complaint:
Try approaching the interpreter and sharing your concerns. Often, this will resolve the situation.
Consider talking with his or her supervisor or the person responsible for contracting or arranging the interpreter to express your concerns.
If all avenues of conflict resolution have been exhausted, then consider filing a complaint with the IMIA.
How to File an Ethical Complaint with the IMIA
If one feels that an interpreter is acting unethically, not according to the IMIA Code of Ethics, he or she may be able to file an ethical complaint against that interpreter with the IMIA.
1) The first step is to verify if the interpreter who’s ethical conduct is in question is a member of IMIA. The IMIA only has jurisdiction over its members. To determine whether the medical interpreter is a member in good standing of our association, search by name at http://www.imiaweb.org/members/getdate.asp,
2) The complainant has to determine whether or not the complaint is of an ethical nature or not. To determine this, please go to the Code section of the IMIA website, where the IMIA and other codes of ethics are listed. To see the IMIA Code of Ethics, please go to:
3) Fill out the complaint form.
These are the minimal requirements for a complaint to be reviewed:
1) The complaint must deal with ethical issues, not personal disputes, civil or criminal issues. To see the IMIA Code of Ethics, please go to: http://www.imiaweb.org/code/default.asp The IMIA will not review criminal or civil complaints. These need to be made to the appropriate legal authorities. It is important to realize that our complaint process is a peer review process that is not like a civil proceeding. The IMIA however, will accept notification of criminal decisions of its members, and can take disciplinary action.
2) The IMIA does not accept anonymous complaints. The Ethics Committee needs the name of the complainant and witnesses in order to investigate the case and notify the complainant. The Ethics Committee will not use your name when notifying the IMIA member interpreter of your allegations.
3) The IMIA will not be able to accept general complaints that cannot be verified. The Ethics Committee needs the details of the incident that lead to the complaint. If a patient is involved, the name of the patient should not be included to protect patient confidentiality, unless a patient has agreed to it in writing. In situations involving a provider, please include the name of the provider.
4) The complainant will not be provided with the investigated member's response to the alleged charges. IMIA will post review summaries.
Any questions about this ethical complaints process can be emailed to Ethics@imiaweb.org.
The Review Process
The Ethics Committee reviews the materials and determines if the allegations, if proven factual, rise to the level of a violation of the Code of Ethics. If the complaint meets this requirement, an investigation is opened and the complainant will be notified. If more information is needed, an Ethics Case Manager will contact the complainant.
Our investigations are handled through correspondence and telephone contact. The Ethics Committee meets periodically, based on the number of ethical complaints brought to its attention. Investigated member interpreters and complainants are not a part of the Ethics Committee meetings. You will be notified of the outcome of your case if you are investigated after a careful investigation of the complaint’s facts and allegations. It may take up to three months to notify complainants of the results due to time constraints typical in the procedures for handling ethical matters.
Only cases that result in termination of membership will have the names of the former members be publicized on the IMIA website. The publication includes the Tenet(s)of the Code of Ethics that was or were found to be violated.
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