Medical Language Interpretation and Key Requirements

Table of Contents

Medical interpretation is an important task in the healthcare industry that requires in-depth medical knowledge and refined interpreting skills. In this article, let’s delve into the roles of medical language interpreters with Thao & Co. We will uncover the types and the important requirements of this special form of interpretation.

What is medical interpretation?


Medical interpretation is the process of converting content from a source language into a target language, ensuring a seamless flow of medical information and accurate comprehension between parties. It is a service that provides language assistance to patients, families, and healthcare providers when they do not speak the same language.

In the medical field, precise comprehension and clear information communication are imperative to guarantee optimal healthcare delivery and productive doctor-patient engagement. However, when there are language barriers, conveying medical information becomes a challenge. This necessitates the crucial involvement of language interpretation to bridge the linguistic gap.

Medical interpretation encompasses not only linguistic conversion, but also the elucidation of medical terminology, treatment procedures, pathological information, and other healthcare aspects for patients and their families. Medical interpretation must ensure precision in communication while enabling mutual comprehension between patients and healthcare workers.

Medical Language Interpreter - Thao & Co.

The role of medical interpretation is to facilitate quality healthcare services for multicultural communities. It ensures unhindered communication of symptoms, medical histories, clinical information, and treatment procedures from patients to healthcare workers. Additionally, medical interpretation helps patients and families feel supported while also allowing them to fully understand their rights.

Common formats of medical interpreting

  • ● On-site interpretation: This is the interpretation between the patients, doctors, and healthcare providers. The medical interpreter listens to the source language and interprets it into the target language, ensuring accurate and efficacious communication.
  • ● Telephone interpretation: In this form of interpretation, the medical interpreters will interpret via telephone for doctors and patients when they cannot be present in person.
  • ● Video interpretation: This involves the medical interpreters interpreting through video calls, ensuring visual interaction and direct communication between patients and doctors.
  • ● Simultaneous interpretation: In healthcare, simultaneous interpretation is often used at medical seminars, international conferences, etc. This facilitates accurate and professional interpretation between medical experts from diverse national and linguistic backgrounds. The cabin is equipped with advanced devices and technology to enable effective and synchronized communication of medical information.

When are medical language interpreters needed?

Medical interpreters are used in the following cases to ensure accurate and effective communication of medical information.

  • ● Meeting patients who do not speak the same language: Medical interpreters play a crucial role when doctors and healthcare providers have to treat patients who do not understand or speak the same language. Interpreters help ensure that medical information is communicated accurately and patients can comprehend and engage in their healthcare process.
  • ● Communicating with the patient’s family: When the patient’s family does not speak the same language as the healthcare providers, enlisting the help of a medical interpreter will ensure accurate communication of medical information. This allows the family to fully understand the patient’s health condition and participate in treatment decisions.
  • ● Complex medical information: In cases involving complicated or specialized medical knowledge, medical interpreters play a crucial role in explaining medical terminology and technical details to patients and families in a simple, easily comprehensible way.
  • ● Medical meetings and consultations: Medical interpreters ensure accurate information transfer, facilitating effective interaction and discussion between parties in medical meetings, consultations, counseling, and teachings.
Medical Interpretation 2 - Thao & Co.

Key requirements for medical language interpreters

Excelling as a medical interpreter requires having proficient language skills as well as mastery of medical terminology for accurate and high-quality interpretation between parties. For medical interpreters, to effectively facilitate communication between patients and healthcare providers, they must fulfill certain key professional requirements.

Language skills

Medical interpreters need excellent language skills, with the ability to express and fully comprehend medical terminology and specialized language. Accurately interpreting information is a task of great importance, ensuring that medical information is conveyed clearly and unambiguously.

In-depth medical knowledge

Medical interpreters must be well-versed in the terminologies, procedures, and basic medical knowledge to understand and communicate information accurately in a simple way to patients and families.

Certification requirements

Medical interpreters need relevant degrees or certificates in medical interpretation, including completing training courses or programs in medical interpretation and having knowledge of procedures and standards in the healthcare industry.

Important events often require specific medical interpretation certificates to ensure professionalism and quality in this field. These certificates help demonstrate the competence and expertise of a medical interpreter.

  1. ● Medical interpreting certificate from International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI): This is an internationally recognized certificate in medical interpretation.
  2. ● Medical interpreting certificate from the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA): This certificate specializes in medical interpretation, focusing on medical terminology and interpreting skills in this field.
  3. ● Medical interpreting certificate from the American Translators Association (ATA): ATA offers a medical interpreting certificate that assesses competence and skills in medical interpreting.
  4. ● CMI certificate from the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI): NBCMI provides professional medical interpreting certificates for six languages, including Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Medical Interpretation - Thao & Co.
NBCMI and CCHI are the most common Medical Interpretation Certificates in the United States

Maintaining confidentiality

Medical language interpreters must adhere to confidentiality regulations and ensure the security of sensitive information in medical records or research. They need to be aware of the patient’s rights to privacy and comply with the information confidentiality regulations and policies.

Flexibility and responsiveness

In medical settings, medical interpreters must have the ability to be flexible and adaptive when handling emergencies or sudden changes. They need to work effectively in stressful situations and process health information accurately and swiftly. The capacity to adapt and react promptly in high-pressure medical circumstances while conveying precise details is essential for medical interpreters.

Medical interpretation rates

When considering a medical interpreter, there are some important factors you should take into account.

Firstly, the duration and number of medical interpreting sessions impact the overall cost. The more time required and sessions booked, the higher the expense. The topic’s complexity is also an important factor. Interpreting highly technical medical terminology and information requires specialized knowledge and skills. The more complex the material, the greater the expertise needed, which can impact the cost.

Some uncommon language pairs or those requiring specialized skills may have higher rates than popular ones. In cases where clients require medical interpreting services on short notice and with high priority, the costs may be higher as the interpreter is required to adequately prepare only on a short moment’s notice.

How to find professional medical language interpreters?

To find professional medical language interpreters, you can consider the following sources:

  1. ● Translation companies specialized in healthcare
  2. ● Doctors and healthcare facilities
  3. ● Industry social networks
  4. ● Medical conferences and events
  5. ● Online websites and forums

You must always check the interpreter’s experience and previous client reviews to find a trustworthy, proficient one.

With our experienced and expert network of medical linguists, Thao & Co. Translation Company is proud to provide reliable, professional medical interpretation services. Our medical linguists who are native speakers of the target language will provide high-quality services to meet all client requirements.

Translation Services - Thao & Co.

As a reputable interpretation agency, Thao & Co. is a top choice when you look for professional medical interpreter services. We have a meticulously selected team of medical linguists with in-depth medical knowledge and superior interpreting skills.

Additionally, we provide Interpretation Guidelines services, assisting your team of interpreters in accurately and effectively conveying information between different languages. This plays a crucial role in interpreting conferences, conventions, international negotiations, and other major events.

Interpreter coaching provides information, interpreting rules, and guidance on supporting tech such as booth systems, ensuring accurate and professional communication between all parties involved.

We provide medical interpretation services for a wide range of languages and language pairs. Working with Thao & Co., you can rest assured that the company will meet your interpreting needs, regardless of the language required.

To learn more about the interpretation services we provide, please visit our website at or contact us directly on our Get A Quote page for detailed consulting.

Source: Thao & Company
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