Top 5 Best Practices Working With Medical Interpreters

In today’s world where job specialization has taken precedence over all else, medical interpreters serve an important purpose at hospitals. A medical interpreter provides the support between the patient and the healthcare provider when the patient is unable to communicate in the same language as the health care provider.

When any error in communication can cause ‘life and death’ situations, it is important that best practices be followed between the medical interpreter and the health care provider. Here is a look at practices to get the best results for the patient by enabling the most effective medical translations.

1. Always use the interpreter rather than when in doubt
Every workplace is different, and if the hospital provides a medical interpreter, it is the responsibility of the physician to use the interpreter services. Many times the health care provider overestimates his/her knowledge of the language and ends up trying to communicate with the patient.

Typically this causes more confusion for the patient and his/her attendants. It is imperative to leave the translation work to the professionally trained interpreter as this will cause less grief to the patient and ensures that the treatment progresses without any hick-ups.

The other common practice is to allow the patient’s attendants or family to interpret the medical advice which is also not a foolproof method of communicating medical information.

2. Get acquainted with the medical interpreter before meeting the patient.
In most cases, the medical interpreter has an understanding of the culture that underlies the language. Meeting the interpreter before seeing the patient can help the healthcare provider understand a little about the culture which may dictate eating habits and other practices. Armed with this information the medical practitioner can change the method of care to better suit the patient’s’ way of life. Also, this will help to avoid any misunderstanding with the patient.

3. Follow simple lines of communication
For best results in communication, it is advised to keep the language simple irrespective of how experienced the medical interpreter is. Simple communication will be the easiest to translate to the patient. It is also recommended to ask short and straightforward questions when inquiring about symptoms. The above is the best way to ensure that the patient understands and responds correctly to questions asked.

4. Let the patient know he/she is the priority
In general practice, people tend to look at the person being addressing. In this case, as the medical practitioner is talking to the interpreter, it is common to look at the interpreter instead of the patient. In all communication regarding the patient, it is important that the patient knows that he/she is the priority. So make sure to look at the patient and address him/her. This will help to build trust with the patient.

5. Distinguish between the interpreter and the patient
Remember the medical interpreter is only the medium of communication between the patient and the doctor. It would be incorrect to hold the medical interpreter responsible for the lack of a proper or incomplete response.

There are many translation service providers; however, you need to pick one with a global perspective and experience. Experience is essential as it helps the organization to assign a translator who is ideal for your requirement rather than the first person they can contact. With intangible learning and quick response pick a service such as Mayflower Language Services which has over a decade of industry experience. Ensure ease of contact when selecting the medical translation service provider.

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