5 Best Practices Working With Medical Interpreters


In today's world where vocational specialization takes precedence over everything else, medical interpreters have an important purpose in hospitals. A medical interpreter supports the patient and the healthcare provider when the patient cannot communicate in the same language as the healthcare provider.


When an error in communication can lead to 'life and death' situations, it is important that best practices are followed between the medical interpreter and the healthcare provider. Here's an overview of practices to get the best patient outcomes by providing the most effective medical translations possible.


1. Always Use the Interpreter Instead of when in Doubt

Every workplace is different and if the hospital provides a medical interpreter, it is the physician's responsibility to use the interpreting services. Often the caregiver overestimates his/her knowledge of the language and eventually tries to communicate with the patient.


This usually causes more confusion for the patient and his/her caregivers. It is imperative to leave the translation work to the professionally trained interpreter, as this will cause less distress to the patient and ensure that the treatment runs smoothly.


The other common practice is to have the patient's counselors or family interpret the medical advice, which is also not a foolproof method of passing on medical information.


2. Meet the Medical Interpreter Before Meeting the Patient.

In most cases, the medical interpreter understands the culture underlying the language. Meeting the interpreter before seeing the patient can help the health care provider understand a bit about the culture that can dictate eating habits and other practices. Armed with this information, the physician can adapt the care method to the patient's lifestyle. This also helps to avoid misunderstandings with the patient.


3. Follow Simple Lines of Communication

For best results in communication, it is advised to keep the language simple, regardless of the experience of the medical interpreter. Simple communication is easiest to translate to the patient. It is also advisable to ask short and clear questions when asking about symptoms. The above is the best way to ensure that the patient understands and answers the questions correctly.


4. Let the Patient Know that he/she is the Priority

In general practice, people tend to look at the person being addressed. In this case, while the doctor is talking to the interpreter, it is customary to look at the interpreter rather than at the patient. In all communication about the patient, it is important that the patient knows that he/she has the priority. So take a good look at the patient and speak to him/her. This will help build trust in the patient.


5. The Distinguish Between the Interpreter and the Patient

Remember that the medical interpreter is just the means of communication between the patient and the doctor. It would be wrong to hold the medical interpreter responsible for the lack of a proper or incomplete response.

There are many translation service providers; however, you should choose one with a global perspective and experience. Experience is essential as it helps the organization assign a translator who is ideal for your requirements, rather than the first person they can contact. With intangible learning and fast response, choose a service like Mayflower Language Services, which has over a decade of experience in the industry. Ensure easy contact when selecting the medical translation service.

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