The Importance of Medical Interpreters

The health care system in the United States is extremely difficult to navigate: no matter what language you speak, it seems like medical terminology and the names of many diseases are their own foreign language. According to Title VI of the 1964 civil Rights Act, “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” This means that all health care providers accepting Federal aid, including Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP are required by law to provide medical interpreters for patients.

While some patients do bring in a family member to help with interpretation during visits with doctors, this situation is not ideal. Often times, the family member is a child, which can create awkward situations where the child is forced to interpret personal adult issues. If the family member is an adult, there are still severe miscommunication issues that can arise, as most people, regardless of age, do not know the precise terms for all medical conditions.

Medical interpreters are necessary in many settings in order to make sure that all patients have access to health care providers. These interpreters are trained in medical vocabulary for each language that they know, and can use these acquired skills to bridge language barriers. They can also make foreign language speaking patients feel more comfortable in what would otherwise be a difficult situation for them. With medical interpreters, patients can accurately describe their health without the worry of being misunderstood, creating a stress-free environment.

By eliminating all the risks associated with miscommunication in the medical field, medical interpreters limit the number of misdiagnoses and even deaths that would otherwise occur. Being a medical interpreter is not only an important job within the medical field, it is also an extremely rewarding one. Without it, many immigrants and citizens with limited English language skills would be put at a severe disadvantage.

Do you serve as a medical interpreter? How do you see your role within the healthcare industry? Let us know in the comments!



Nisar, the dynamic force behind Translation Excellence, stands tall as its founder and CEO. This isn’t just any company—it’s a global heavyweight in boutique language services. Hailing from the vibrant city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Nisar brought his passion and expertise to the U.S. shores in 2001. In the realm of languages, he’s a titan. With 19 years under his belt, he’s worn hats from a linguist and instructor to a cultural bridge-builder and curriculum craftsman.

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