Good Medical Interpreters Make a Difference
Let’s say that you are abroad and decide to try that little nice-looking restaurant that has a big sign shouting ‘We speak English’. You then have a look at the menu and actually dread to taste some of the dishes because their translations make them sound horrible! Next time you might want to go to another place, won’t you? The same could be said of medical interpreting. What if the message that is given to you makes your condition sound much more serious than what the doctor is trying to say?
This point can also be made using the example of business. Would you start a company with someone who could barely understand your language? According to a study for the European Commission, up to 11% of enterprises have lost contracts with potential clients in other EU countries because of language barriers. This is nearly 1 million small and medium-sized firms! So, multilingualism is the key to success in the world market. While lack of language skills can lead prospective clients to choose another company, or in the case of medical interpreters, it can cause patients undue stress or pain.
Medical interpreters must have both impeccable knowledge of the two languages that they are communicating between, and specialist knowledge of the particular case that they are dealing with. In addition to the complications that can arise if medical interpreters have insufficient subject knowledge, language proficiency equals trust, which is vital for a potentially vulnerable and no doubt nervous patient.
As your voice, medical interpreters are given the responsibility of communicating your message to the relevant doctor, surgeon or other medical professional. As such, you need to give them the clearest possible sentences, as the message is less likely to be misinterpreted. There are inevitable stumbling blocks such as cultural differences, especially when it comes to medical interpreting, but medical interpreters are responsible for being aware of these areas and asking for clarification where necessary.