Technology-aided translanguaging in Emergency Department consultations

Antoon Cox (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

Emergency medicine is a predominantly oral activity in which medical errors often result from poor communication. Due to the increasing diversity of patients in Emergency Departments (ED), especially in the light of the current refugee influx into Europe, emergency physicians often need to treat patients with whom they do not share a language. In addition to problems at the level of information exchange between the physician and the patient, language barriers may challenge the rapport building between the former and the latter as well. In this presentation, we discuss a case study in which a multilingual history-taking app facilitated the co-construction of a “pop-up” shared repertoire among the doctor, the patient and the patient’s companion. We find that, rather than functioning as a pure translation tool, technology-aided translanguaging can have a calming and an accommodating effect on the patient, enhancing patient-centeredness and rapport building in nightly language discordant ED consultations.