Why Use Professional Medical Translators?

By Melia Yanat, Lingolet Team

Why Use Professional Medical Translators?

Often, family members translate for the doctors and nurses. But this can be a problem because medicine has many technical terms that only health care specialists know and understand.  


A hidden problem often causes more serious difficulties. Religion, customs, generation gap, shame, taboos, and tradition may prevent proper translation. 


For example, a young Senegalese woman arrived at the emergency room with unbearable stomach pains. She spoke only Wolof, so her husband translated. Doctors asked her if she was wearing IUD contraception. Because that is punishable in her culture, the woman said no to her husband. The doctors believed her and eliminated the possibility of an infected IUD. 


After her husband left, she was able to get the doctors to understand her problem. She will have life-long damage to her reproductive organs.  


Medical translators are a neutral third party between the patient and the health care provider, such as a doctor or nurse.


 

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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?