Document Translation Is Critical For The Health Care Industry

The United States has always been known as the home of cultural diversity; and today that is more accurate than ever. Almost every community in our country consists of families with diverse backgrounds and heritages with native languages other than English. Because of this reality, businesses are beginning to understand the necessity of communicating both the spoken and written word in other languages. In some businesses or industries this change is crucial. The health care industry is the prime example.Health care professionals provide essential, sometimes critical information to their patients on a daily basis. This data is often in writing in the form of prescriptions, admissions documents, HIPAA Compliance information, etc. Many English-speaking patients have a hard time understanding all of the rules, regulations and instructions that are a part of any interaction with the medical community. But if a patient does not speak or read English or if their English proficiency is limited, they have an added disadvantage. And, if a patient does not understand the medical information that is being conveyed to them, they can make choices or agree to procedures that are not in compliance with their wishes or beliefs. This misunderstanding could lead to legal issues for the health care community and unwanted consequences for patients.In any given day, a health care facility could encounter people who speak very little English but speak Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Chinese, German, French, Russian, etc. Having the capability to interact and provide pertinent information to patients of other cultures has become a crucial necessity for hospitals and other medical facilities.As though the task of translating numerous medical documents into a variety of languages wasn’t a big enough challenge, the medical community is starting from scratch in this endeavor. Currently, Federal guidelines to oversee the consistency or proficiency of the translation of medical documents are limited. Therefore, many states, understanding the crucial necessity of having medical documents translated into a variety of languages, have developed recommendations and resources as they pertain to the translation of documents and written information. These recommendations cover areas such as the kind of translation, the number of translators to be used on a project and the reading level of the translated documents.One of the challenges in having medical documents translated is that the United States does not presently have licensing requirements for translators. The Northwest Translators and Interpreters Society (NOTIS) acknowledges some associations that offer certificates or accreditation for translation and states are including this information in their recommendations.With this lack of guidelines and accreditation systems, the health care industry is plowing new ground as Institutional Review Boards develop policies and regulations to help guide the implementation of document translation. In the meantime, patients of all cultures, speaking a variety of languages, require medical care; and it is the task of health care providers to supply these patients with relative information and instructions pertaining to their health issues or concerns. The task seems daunting, yet each day progress is made and patients are cared for as the medical community puts form and structure into the process of caring for a multicultural community.