The Importance Of Translation Services In The Medical Field

Naomi, (not her real name), a twenty year old woman in Kenya was diagnosed with kidney failure at the age of eighteen. Since then she had to visit the hospital on a weekly basis for kidney dialysis that was very expensive. The doctors advised her to have a kidney transplant since she was still young and had her whole life ahead that obviously was not going to depend on the dialysis. Her family had used most of the little resources they had and could not afford the procedure. Many well-wishers came in and they not only contributed but they also advised the family to travel to India where they would get some of the best doctors at an affordable cost. The family was relieved and Naomi and her fifty-year-old mother set for the journey. They arrived in India on soon after and went straight to the hospital but with little knowledge of what laid ahead. Naomi’s medical records had all been written in Swahili (a national language in Kenya) and both she and her mother could only speak her mother tongue and Swahili. At the hospital there was no Swahili translator that could help with the communication and that really made everything very difficult. Fortunately, the hospital was able to get translation services to help translate her medical records to something that they could work with, ensuring that everything was translated correctly.

Naomi’s case is just one of the many reasons why translation in the medical field is very important. There are many medical documents that require translations in the hospitals, from patient histories to a foreign doctor’s instructions, and even research reports. Translation services are also very essential as they not only help improve patient care but they also make life easier for the hospital staff.

Aside from the above documents that may need translation, you may find that translation is also a great choice for other things in the hospital as well:

  • Basic information like hospital maps, visitors’ hours, directional signs and even evacuation plans. Since a hospital is a big place, this information is very essential as it makes it easier to navigate during stressful evacuations and will give visitors greater peace of mind.
  • Instructional signs like sanitary precautions, lists of prohibited items, and more. This information is very useful as it informs the patients and the visitors of hospital policies that need to be followed for patient safety.
  • Other documents like intake forms, informational documents (e.g. vaccination, pamphlets, etc). Such information essential to ensure proper care for every treatment. It is also useful to ensure that the necessary information is available to both patients and doctors, regardless of their primary language.

Translation services not only help patients and visitors but they also help the staff who may be visiting from another country. Instead of worrying about translating the information that they are seeing into their native language, everyone who enters the hospital will be able to get the care that they need and will be able to abide by hospital rules.

It is obviously impossible to translate every single sign and document into every language, but it can be done for common languages that you find yourself working with on a regular basis. If you are trying to figure out what to translate first, it’s best to focus on the things that have the greatest affect on patient care, like patient records, medical studies, and previous medical history. Translation services can and do save lives, so make sure that you’re using them correctly.