Lia Lee, a young child of Hmong immigrants, has been brought to the emergency room of a California medical clinic. It took several days for the doctors to diagnose the case because the interpreter, a Hmong whose English was poor, was inadequate. The problem was made worse because the parents considered Lia’s illness to be both a threat to her health – hence their trip to the clinic – and a sign that she may be destined to be a shaman. The doctors prescribed a drug regimen. The parents said they understood how to administer the medicine, although they couldn’t understand English or read what was written on the bottles.
Issues and Study Questions
- Based on the overview above, what are the issues?
- What beliefs are at issue here?
- Were the parents “noncompliant?”
- What could the doctors/nurses do differently?
- What do you feel the doctors/patient/parents should do here?
- How could a social worker or skilled interpreter assist in this situation?
- Was religion an issue in this situation?
- What is the responsibility of the health care community in such a situation? What about other professions?
- Do you think there is a “right” and “wrong” way to handle this situation? Why? Why not?
- Have you faced similar issues in your own profession or personal life? If so, what were they? Were they resolved?
- What can be learned?
- Do you think education about religious literacy would have helped/harmed in this situation? How so?
Source: Religion and the Professions (General Honors 1030) taught by Dr. Jill Raitt, University of Missouri