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Why do hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices and other healthcare facilities need certified medical interpreters? According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey, over 61 million people speak a language other than English at home. That’s 20% of the U.S. population!

If you’re a physician, nurse, hospital staff or anyone else in the healthcare industry (such as an insurance provider), it’s likely that you’ll run into communication problems with a patient at some point in your practice. However, by using on-site or telephonic certified medical interpretation services, your relationship with your patients will overcome any language barrier.

Here are just 4 of the important benefits of using a certified medical interpreter.

1. More Accurate Medical Histories

When you’re treating a patient, it’s vital to receive an accurate medical history as well as understanding their current symptoms. This can be quite a challenge if you don’t speak your patient’s language.

Even if the patient has a multi-lingual family member, as many do, that family member probably won’t know how to translate specific medical terminology or explain detailed treatments such as surgical procedures.

A certified medical interpreter, however, has been trained to do exactly that. They will be able to get the patient’s most accurate medical history and help you all communicate clearly.

2. Less Stress for Patients & Their Families

Seeking medical care can be a stressful experience for anyone, but it’s extra difficult if you’re having trouble communicating. When hospitals and other healthcare facilities don’t provide a certified medical interpreter, foreign language patients often recruit a bi- or multi-lingual family member, sometimes even a child, to act as their interpreter.

Unfortunately, this individual isn’t trained to interpret specific medical terminology and may make errors while translating. And because of their close relationship to the patient, they may also omit or reinterpret a healthcare provider’s information, resulting in more complications later on.

Using a third-party certified interpreter allows patients and their families to relax without worrying that their voices aren’t being heard.

3. Improves Efficiency in Hospitals, Offices & Clinics

By working with a certified medical interpreter, you know your patients’ information will be accurate and communication will run smoothly. This will improve efficiency in all aspects of care, from intake to follow-up appointments because you won’t have to make corrections for inaccurate information.

Additionally, having a certified healthcare interpreter in your hospital, doctor’s office or healthcare clinic will speed up your schedule. Whereas a family member might not be available for every appointment, an interpreter can be on-site (or available telephonically) 24/7.

Plus, if you’ve been using nurses or other staff to act as interpreters, having certified interpretation will free them up again to do the jobs they’re actually trained for.

4. Boosts Your Community Reputation

Finally, using certified medical interpreters will boost your reputation in your local community. Patients who don’t speak English will know that they’re welcome in your hospital, doctor’s office or clinic — and that they’ll receive better care than facilities without interpreters.

Providing medical interpreters demonstrates that you truly respect and care about all your patients, regardless of their ethnic or cultural background. This puts everyone at ease and creates a much better environment for healing.

What do you think?

Let’s add to this list! Tell us about your experiences working with a certified medical interpreter and how you benefited from their skills.