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Why is translation or interpretation useful in healthcare?

By Elodie Charvet, Lingolet Team

Why is translation or interpretation useful in healthcare?

As the United States becomes more and more diverse, so do the languages we speak. Today, more than 25 million Americans speak English “less than very well,” according to the U.S. Census Bureau.    

The importance of medical translation and interpretation comes from the necessity to provide proper health care services to those US citizens who do not speak English.   

Studies show the impact of language barriers on health care. LEP patients have a 63% greater chance of readmission and a typical hospital stay is 1.5 days longer. In the emergency room, the LEP patient stays 20% longer and incurs 40% higher ER test charges.    

4 reasons why health care providers need medical interpreters :     

1- Communication for full understanding. A professional medical interpreter improves understanding and compliance at each step the patient takes through their healthcare journey. There is zero-tolerance for mistakes in healthcare. An incorrect translation might harm someone’s health or well-being. Unbiased accurate communication. 

2- Patients often need to make important decisions. Communicating with patients through a professional medical interpreter removes any emotional bias or additional family trauma and ensures the correct information is shared.  

3- Comprehension improves patient satisfaction. The more the patient understands and acknowledges, the higher the satisfaction score. LEP patient satisfaction scores tend to be lower than English speakers because they don’t comprehend the experience, procedure, treatment, or care. 

4 - Comply with laws and regulations. The adoption of Title IV of the Civil Rights Act stipulates that the provision of interpretation to patients who do not speak English is mandatory and all health care institutions should abide.


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Learn more about medical translation: 


  • Why are medical translation errors unacceptable, and how can they be avoided

  • Is there a difference in medical language between Quebec French and French from France?

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