Getting sick can in itself be alarming, especially if you live alone. Now imagine you’re sick and alone in a foreign country where not only do you not know who to turn to, but you also don’t speak the local language. This is where a medical interpreter can help you!
Who are medical interpreters?
Medical interpreters are a key element in the communication between a patient and the healthcare provider. They are language professionals who not only master at least two languages, but also have in-depth knowledge of medical terms in both of those languages. Though it is not a prerequisite, many medical interpreters have some kind of experience and/or have received training in the medical field.
In emergency situations, such as the 2020 CoronaVirus outbreak, interpreters can operate from remote in order to guarantee the highest standard of safety measures.
Medical interpreting is a very sensitive task and thus the interpreter is bound by confidentiality. The interpreter also needs to be compassionate while maintaining their neutrality.
Why does medical interpreting require training?
In such a hypersensitive working environment it’s fundamental that what is said is translated as accurately as possible and that all communication errors are avoided. During training, would-be interpreters are taught to deal with certain medical situations and they are also taught one very important thing: medical interpreters should always choose their words carefully, because words matter – for example, the way they describe to the doctor the pain felt by the patient can influence the treatment.
A study by the American College of Emergency Physicians has proven that certain mistakes (omissions, simplification, etc.) are much more likely to occur if the person helping us with the communication is not a trained medical interpreter.
Why bilingual children are not the best medical interpreters
There are plenty of real-life examples of adults being escorted to the doctor’s by their often underage child, who then – because their parent doesn’t speak the language – takes on the role of interpreter. This is often the case with immigrant families, and in a way, it’s understandable: children learn languages much more easily than adults and therefore often have a higher level of proficiency in that language. In certain situations, it’s alright to have a child translate. However, if the stakes are high, such as in a medical emergency, youngsters might not be the best option. During medical appointments, sensitive information is shared, and a child simply cannot be expected to know the importance of such information. In fact, the NHS states that “The use of anyone under the age of 16 for interpretation is not acceptable in any circumstance other than when immediate and necessary treatment is required.”
So, here’s to you never finding yourself in such a scary situation, but if you do, now you know why it’s essential to have a qualified interpreter be there with you to help you navigate the often-murky waters of medical jargon!
Langpros Medical Interpreting
Langpros specializes in medical interpreting services for hospitals, clinics, and technical conferences or seminars.
Our trained medical interpreters are familiar with the industry’s terminology and know how to handle delicate situations in a medical examination scenario.
Our vast array of interpreting solutions also includes remote interpreting, the perfect solution for medical organizations when on-site interpreters are not available or when limiting potential infections is a priority.