The Need for Medical Interpreting Services in Emergency Medicine

The Need for Medical Interpreting Services in Emergency Medicine

Medical Interpreting in Emergency MedicineLet’s envision a scenario: imagine, you’re an emergency room doctor and you’re working a late shift on a Friday evening. Your waiting area is filled with people – unfortunately, it’s a busy night. You enter a room to meet with your next patient, and find an upset mother and son, as well as one of your nurses looking concerned.

Upon asking your nurse what’s wrong, she tells you that the mother and son both speak Arabic, and she hasn’t been able to find anyone who can understand them. You don’t speak Arabic, but you know that something is obviously wrong with the mother, and you need to treat her as soon as possible - what do you do?

The best solution for the above scenario would be for the hospital to have Arabic Medical Interpreters on-site, or access to telephonic or video remote interpretation. Without professional services, the risk for miss-diagnosis or potential harm to the patient will increase.

Medical interpreters are necessary in many different medical and healthcare scenarios – but none are quite the same as providing medical interpreter services in Emergency Medicine.

Why Do We Need to Provide Interpreter Services in Emergency Medicine?

Medical Interpreting in Emergency The reason why it is necessary to provide interpreter services in Emergency Medicine is much the same as it is for providing medical interpreters in all areas of healthcare. The United States has a large population of Limited English Proficient individuals who need access to healthcare in order to remain healthy.

Emergency medicine is especially important, as often people who come in have life threatening illnesses or injuries – problems that need to be understood and taken care of right away. Therefore, it is important to have someone on hand in an emergency room that is able to accurately, and coherently interpret for non-English speaking patients – as there is much, much less room for error.

In the above scenario, a Doctor without access to a certified Arabic medical interpreter would have to try and diagnose what’s wrong with the patient based on observation, gestures, or a poor translation from her son who may know only a little English, and who is already unfocused due to worry about his mother – thus increasing the margin for error significantly.

In short, without professional medical interpreting services in the Emergency Room for LEP individuals, the patient runs the risk of harm due to an inability to communicate.

People interested in becoming medical interpreters have the opportunity to study for emergency room situations; however, this particular type of interpretation comes with particular challenges.

What Are The Challenges Of Providing Interpreter Services in Emergency Medicine?

Medical Interpreter Services in Emergency Doctors working in emergency medicine are required to have an extremely broad medical knowledge and skillset in order to diagnose, evaluate, and care for whatever issue a person may happen to walk into the waiting room with. The same is expected from the medical interpreter – he or she will need to be able to understand and speak about a very broad array of medical topics in order to help the patient explain any symptoms to the doctor, and in order to help the doctor tell the patient his or her diagnosis and treatment.

Interpreters, like translators, can be specialized in a variety of industries. Medical interpreters may have more experience or knowledge in a specific area of healthcare – like cardiovascular for example – and less in others. In emergency medicine however, an interpreter will need to have a good understanding of all types of medical topics.

Aside from the required knowledge, interpreters in emergency medicine will also need to have extremely good focus and pace of speech. The emergency room can get extremely hectic, and it can be distracting to say the least. Then there are the patients who are clearly suffering, the worried family members, the short time span with which things need to get done, and the risk that someone’s life could be at stake if they aren’t treated quickly.

To sum it up – it’s a lot of pressure.

Working in a high pressure environment as an interpreter requires intense focus in order to hear everything the doctor and patient are saying, and to accurately interpret between languages.

Along with the pressure comes the fast-paced environment of the emergency room – after all, there’s no time to lose with people’s lives on the line. Interpreters will need to keep pace with the doctors’, nurses’, and patients’ speed of talking, and their general pace of work to make sure they don’t omit anything vital to diagnosis or treatment.

Studies done in the past have estimated that around 100 hours of training are necessary to limit the number of errors made by interpreters in medical and ER situations – as such, every training course and class helps.

So where can you look to get Emergency Medicine interpreter training?

How Can You Get Training for Emergency Medicine Interpreting?

Medical interpreter training courses serve to teach individuals the ethics of interpreting, how to properly interpret, and the required medical knowledge in both the native and target languages. Introduction courses don’t cover all medical topics however, and thus it is necessary to continue your education even after you’ve completed a program or been certified.

Language Connections offers an Advanced Medical Interpreter Training Course that covers areas such as Interpreting for Emergency Medicine. It is designed to build off of concepts learned in our introduction to Medical Interpreting Training Course.

Students will spend 7 weeks getting the most up-to-date information regarding interpreting for a variety of medical topics including: Oncology, Radiology, Pharmacology, Emergency Medicine, and more. Classes are taught by professional medical interpreters with extensive work experience.

At the end of the course you will receive a certification of completion, demonstrating that you have undergone additional training in medical interpreting.

With scenarios like the one mentioned at the beginning of the blog likely to increase with LEP populations, medical interpreters will be in high demand – make sure you’re increasing your interpreting knowledge in medical areas where they matter most!

Get the necessary, in person training in order to become a competent medical interpreter. Register now for one of our upcoming medical interpreter training programs:

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