According to an Associated Press report, a lawsuit is currently in the works aiming to overturn an "unfunded mandate" from the prior administration that currently burdens many of the nation's health-care providers. The mandate requires federally funded hospitals, clinics, and doctors to make translators available to patients who speak limited English.
From this Fool's perspective, there are at least three ways to look at the executive order and its effects. First, my instinct is to say that this was a great idea. Patients should not be put at risk of life and limb simply because they don't understand what their doctor is telling them. Imagine how you would feel if, after examining your sprained wrist, your doctor asked you: "Mi khotim otrezit vashu ruku, dorogoy. Vi soglosen ili nyet?" If the extent of your knowledge of the doctor's Russian tongue is "da" and "nyet," you might be inclined to just trust him on the basis of nothing more than the fact that he is the one wearing the lab coat. How surprised you'd be to wake up hours later to find yourself minus one arm!
From another perspective, the rule is also good for hospitals. It's no great secret that America is litigation-happy. And whenever a patient accedes to a doctor's treatment without objectively understanding what will happen to him, the doctor, and his clinic or hospital, runs the risk of getting slapped with a "lack of informed consent" lawsuit. By providing translators to ensure that patients know what they are consenting to, health-care providers limit their exposure to lawsuits.
But from an investor's -- and for that matter, a health-care consumer's -- perspective, I have to side with the plaintiffs in this case. When government says to a hospital such as HCA
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Funny thing, Fool contributor Rich Smith doesn't recall any trained English translators being provided him free of charge when he had a broken finger X-rayed in Moscow. He owns no shares in any company mentioned in this article.