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How Medical Translation Services Help Patients

Let’s imagine a few situations without medical translation services.
A Spanish speaking male patient who is LEP (limited English proficient) has trouble explaining his Acid Reflux symptoms to his physician.
A Korean speaking woman has to bring her 5 years old daughter with her to understand the doctor as he explains a sensitive medical condition.
A physician, barely able to speak Japanese, struggles to explain ADHD to a child’s Japanese speaking parents.
Cases like these happen often in the medical community simply because of a lack of medical translation and interpreting services.
Patients have trouble understanding and conveying messages to their physicians. Many times, patients are already nervous and feel vulnerable. Adding a language barrier only increases these feelings.
Likewise, physicians struggle to communicate with their patients…simply because of a language barrier. It is already difficult to explain a medical condition when both parties speak the same language. When the parties speak different languages, it becomes nearly impossible.
In the medical industry, it is vital that information is conveyed correctly to doctors, patients, and other included parties. Otherwise, it can lead to potentially fatal errors.

The Mistake Many Patients Make

When confronted with a language barrier, most patients will bring a family member to interpret and translate for them. Although this option is better than no interpretation at all, it raises many issues.
For instance, a family member unskilled in medical terminology will have a difficult time finding the correct way to explain what the doctor is saying. Much of it can be lost in translation.
Secondly, a family member is not an unbiased third party. There have been instances when a family member will not translate what a doctor has just said for fear of the patient’s reaction or because of cultural norms.
Thirdly, patients will bring their underage children to translate for them. These children are placed in a role they are not prepared to handle: decoding medical information, much of which they don’t understand. Also, the information they are translating may be sensitive to the child.

So what is the correct solution?

A third party interpreter and/or translator can help solve many of the issues caused by language barriers. They can make sure all information is conveyed correctly to the patient and can provide additional benefits to the physician.
One possible solution is to provide interpretation by phone. Interpreters can translate the information for both the physician and patient by phone without having to be present.
However, while many physicians say this option is better than nothing, it is not optimal.
Instead, they prefer having an interpreter present in the room.

Physicians can hire medical interpreters fluent in the patient’s language to provide interpretations for the patient.
But an interpreter who is present can provide much more as well:
For instance, an interpreter who not only is fluent in the language, but also the culture, will be able to sense when a patient does not understand the doctor.

Additional Benefits of Medical Translation Services

Medical translation services are not limited to interpretation only. There are additional benefits to both the patients and physicians.
For instance, a medical translator can help with:

  • medical records
  • vial and carton labels
  • consent forms
  • leaflets
  • and much more

Here at Executive Linguist, we’ve been providing medical translation services since 1978.
We have a team of skilled medical interpreters and translators available for your patients’ languages.
To find out more about our medical interpreting and translation services, please call us at 800-522-2320
Or click here to request a free quote.

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