Hospital Translator

The Need for a Hospital Translator

An elderly woman walks into the emergency room at local hospital. She pats her chest with her hand. A nurse walks up and asks her what is wrong. The woman has trouble breathing, and when she finally does speak, it is not in English. Hospital staff cannot communicate with the woman. Is it a heart attack or indigestion or asthma or one of a dozen other ailments? Because of an inability to communicate, proper medical treatment will likely be delayed. Hopefully, it won’t be fatal.

Translators are an important component of any emergency response service, and are especially important in the medical field. Diagnosis is an essential step in treatment and care. A doctor’s ability to perform this crucial process is directly tied to his or her ability to communication with the patient. Hospital translators bridge this critical gap.

Other Benefits of a Hospital Translator

But assisting is treatment and diagnosis is only one aspect of the hospital translator’s job. Another is putting patients at ease. By allowing the elderly woman from earlier to hear a familiar phrase and know that she can communicate with the staff is sometimes as important as the treatment. Providing medical care is often complicated by the patients stress, anxiety, and fear. A hospital translator can help alleviate these emotions by simply explaining to the patient what is happening and what needs to be done.

Outside of the emergency setting, hospital translators assist medical professionals by translating medication, scheduling appointments, communicating with family, and arranging billing. They can also assist in reaching out to non-English speaking communities and organizations.

Today, hospitals realize the high-risk in misdiagnosis. Most heath care professionals understand that an inability to communicate with a patient can mean unnecessary tests, longer stays, and medical mistakes. It is much more prudent for a hospital to rely on the translation from a trained hospital translator, with knowledge of medical terminology, than the good-intentions of the patient’s loved ones. In addition, the patient may not want to reveal the true nature of their medical condition to that loved one. Protecting the patient’s privacy is another safeguard provided by the hospital translator.