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How to Maximize the Use of Medical Interpreters in the Health Care Sector

Medical Interpreter
How to Maximize the Use of Medical Interpreters in the Health Care Sector
on May, 13 2014
Medical Interpreter

Image credit: US Navy 100609-N-8539M-196 Capt. James Bates, a U.S. Navy orthopedic surgeon, explains a young girl's hip problem to her parents through an interpreter
taken by U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Mike Morley under Public Domain.

No one can deny the need for medical interpreters nowadays, not only in hospitals but also in health centers and medical clinics. With the increase in the number of migrants, more and more patients are admitted in hospitals, and seen in health care centers, but are unable to communicate well with the doctors and patients. This could result to delayed patient care or even death if not acted upon as quickly as possible. Thus, hospitals should make sure that they hire a medical interpreter, whether it is on a part time or full time basis.

Providing medical attention with the help of interpreters

To ensure that the patients are given medical attention, here are some tips in maximizing the services provided by an interpreter:

• For hospitals that will only hire medical interpreters when needed, it is important to have their contact information handy so that you can book their services immediately. A lot of other hospitals would require their services, too. Therefore, if there is a patient who cannot communicate well due to language barrier, an interpreter must be reserved right away. The best thing to do is to list the name of interpreters who can speak certain languages so that when their services are needed, you can just dial their number.

• In emergency cases, there is no need to wait for the medical interpreter to come and do the job. There are other means in which their services can be maximized. They might be asked to speak via video conferencing, or a simple phone call will suffice. Take note that the rates of medical interpreters vary depending on the form of communication used.

• It is advised that doctors speak directly to the patient. The same thing is true for the nurses. The medical interpreter will join the conversation only if there is a need to clarify things for the patient. It is important for the patient to establish the fact that the conversation is between him and the doctor. By then, he knows that these words are from someone who has the authority to give him medical advice. Again, it is important to establish connection.

• Even though medical interpreters are trained to interpret medical terms, it is still advised to use simpler terms. This is not just for the sake of the interpreter, but also of the patient. Even if the interpreter was successful in interpreting a certain medical term, the translated word might still be difficult to comprehend for the patient. In some cases, medical interpreters might also stop for a while to think of the right term for translation and it could disrupt the conversation.

Choosing the best medical interpreter

Not everyone who is bilingual or multilingual is good enough to become a medical interpreter. They must have a background in medicine as well. These interpreters are trained to deal with medical cases. The words involved are not just ordinary words in regular conversations. Take note that when medical terms are misinterpreted, it could spell disaster. The patient might not be given the right kind of support. Therefore, medical interpreters must have years of experiences in their bag and are willing to train further to improve on their craft.

Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

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