How Random People as Medical Interpreters can Endanger Lives?

Medical interpretation involves the services that are related to life and death. Mostly the countries exist with a diverse population and there are different languages and different dialects of single languages within the same country. This paves the way for the employment of medical interpreters. Medical translation and interpretation are difficult and challenging tasks. There is a probability of translators and interpreters involved commit mistakes and errors. However, they do need to realize how their negligence or carelessness can lead to grave consequences. But allowing random people with limited exposure to the medical industry can turn even catastrophic. As there is no room for error and mistakes in medical interpretation. 

Therefore, people offering medical interpretation services have to be extra vigilant while performing their tasks and should ensure they are focused, well prepared, and ready to interpret before starting their day as multiple dangerous and life-threatening issues may occur if they don’t pay attention and heed to their work. Thus, there should be certain rules defined about the people who can offer the medical services and who cannot and also the outcomes of them offering the services.

No family members should be allowed as medical interpreters

Getting sick is natural and a part of the human health cycle. It was not long ago when patients were accompanied by their immediate family to foreign lands while seeking medical care. The attendee used to be the one who can speak the same language and can better elaborate on the patient’s health, suffering and disease. The patient also insisted on having a family member or relative on their side so that they feel secure and comfortable.

However, this practice is quite not right and got rejected for several reasons.

It puts additional responsibility on the relative as he could be overwhelmed with the request of the patient accompanying him and actually, he is not that fluent or proficient in that language.

Limited medical knowledge 

They are not the ones who are offering professional medical interpretation services so they can not exactly describe the ailment of the patient. They lack medical knowledge so they may also change their words, and feelings in order to pretend they know things better. This may create hindrances in the right diagnosis followed by proper treatment.

Impartiality and Neutrality 

Secondly, it often gets emotionally challenging to stay neutral when you are presenting a patient who is your close relative. It could also be a problem to stay partial and rational. A relative cum interpreter cannot avoid certain inclinations and assumptions based on his relationships and feelings about the patient.

Therefore, this is certainly not a good idea to accompany a patient as a relative and then work as the interpreter even if you understand the language. It is better to let a real professional do his job for the betterment of the patient and his health.

No bilingual medical staff should be allowed as medical interpreters

There are a lot of incidents witnessed where bilingual medical staff offered their services as medical interpreters thinking they can do the job for some additional pennies or as a goodwill gesture. They are no doubt part of the medical industry and may have the notion of medical science too but they are not professionals. Professional medical interpreters also offer telephonic interpretation services for medical sites. Such is their knowledge and subject matter expertise that they can offer telephonic services by having a look at the medical sites. Therefore, the credibility and subject matter expertise of a professional medical interpreter cannot be questioned or challenged even if you are working as a medical staff who can speak more than 1 language and believe can offer interpretation services.

Such practices can lead to misdiagnosis putting a patient’s health and life at stake. A nurse or a ward boy can barely understand the medical condition of a person. They don’t have in-depth and detailed knowledge of that subject of medicine. Therefore, such scenarios are also being addressed lawfully in many countries to make sure that no one gets mistreated or loses a precious life subjecting to such reasons.

Using professional medical interpreters Lawfully 

Medical language interpretation services, hence are inevitable for the patients who require these. A doctor or physician can only treat the patient when he knows the precise and accurate medical condition of the patient.

Therefore, Affordable Care Act (ACA) tells in section 1557 addresses the requirements of care providers and professionals including healthcare programs administration and health services. Section 1557 asks the people who have zero to limited proficiency, in the English language to provide medical assistance through a qualified interpreter or translator which is good for both parties and can definitely save them hassles and conflicts.

Final words

Medical interpretation is an important and sensitive field now and patients have to hire them while visiting foreign lands when they fail to understand the language of their physician. However, it is important to be mindful of the fact that patients cannot allow everyone to be their interpreters. As it requires profound knowledge and subject matter expertise with relevant terminology and not everyone can depict the medical condition as precisely and accurately as professionals do.