What Does A Medical Interpreter Do?

medical interpreter

Not everything the doctor says or that’s written on a pamphlet by a medical group is understood by the everyday person. The reason for this is simple, most people don’t go through medical school! Many of the terms and phrases used by doctors are complicated and completely unfamiliar to most people.

There are over 20,000 terms in the field of medicine and the average person doesn’t have the medical training to understand them. Research shows that there is an 80% chance that one or some of these terms will be used during a medical diagnosis or within a prescription, and there is a 90% chance that the person hearing that term is doing so for the first time. In addition, because the terms are often unfamiliar, some people might not be able to search them online because they don’t know how to spell the words. Now imagine having this problem, but you don’t speak the same language as the doctor or nurse. This can make it nearly impossible for a patient to understand their health.

When the health care practitioner or worker can’t speak the same language as a patient, an intermediary is needed to effectively transmit complex information regarding the health of the patient across language barriers. This is where a medical interpreter comes in.


What Is A Medical Interpreter?

A medical interpreter uses their professional training and knowledge of multiple languages to communicate between a health care worker and the patient/the patient’s family. They help in breaking down the diagnosis for a patient in a way that aligns with their cultural and linguistic background.


What Does A Medical Interpreter Do?

In the most basic sense, a medical interpreter translates from one language to another so that a patient/patient’s family can speak to a health care worker. Without this, a patient wouldn’t properly understand what they have been diagnosed with, their prescriptions, and how to navigate the medical system. A medical interpreter can offer this information.

A medical interpreter is required to be fluent in at least two languages. They must have a near-native understanding of the languages in which they interpret so they can effectively communicate important health information.

In addition to translating during appointments and procedures, the medical interpreter may also help to explain instruction manuals for medical devices, read room service menus, and explain the next steps in treatment.

Another very important aspect of the medical interpreter’s job is explaining legal and medical documents to a patient. When a person undergoes surgery or has to make a major health decision, they’re usually required by law to sign consent documents and agreements for the hospital. Because they are usually written by the hospital’s legal team or compliance department, these documents might be hard to understand for the patient or person signing. The medical interpreter breaks down the document in plain language so that the signee can understand what they are being asked to agree to. In a sense, having a medical interpreter in this situation is like having a lawyer present to ensure everything is in order.

Another important job of the medical interpreter is to ensure drug information is clearly explained to the patient. Because of cultural differences, not every patient may be familiar with prescription drugs or how to take them. Many pharmaceutical companies don’t properly translate drug labels, side effect sheets, or allergy information for patients that don’t speak English, thus the medical interpreter will assist the doctor in explaining all aspects of the drug.  Medical translators ensure patients understand all the information given to them from medical practitioners and health care workers. They perform a critical job within the health care system that depends on their professionalism and knowledge of medicine and different cultures. If something happens to the patient or a lawsuit is filed within the health care system, medical interpreters may be called as witnesses to provide evidence about the event. That’s why it’s so important that interpreters are properly trained and provide their services in an ethical manner—they could potentially help someone who has been neglected or exonerate a worker of wrongdoing.

Medical interpreters might not have to go to medical school, but their years of research and training makes them very important in today’s medical field.


Choose Acutrans for Professional Medical Interpretation Services

For trustworthy and accurate medical interpretation services, choose Acutrans. Our medical interpreters have years of experience interpreting in medical facilities and have logged thousands of hours of on-site medical interpreting. In addition, our medical interpreters go through extensive training, and all of our certified interpreters are well versed in both medical terminology and key health care information. Finally, our medical interpreters follow HIPAA guidelines, ensuring that any information exchanged between interpreter and patient is completely confidential. For customized medical interpretation solutions, trust Acutrans to deliver.

If you need a trusted medical interpreter, who works with professionalism and is fully licensed, contact us to get a free quote for medical interpretation services.