Medical Interpretation for Indian Patients abroad
Becoming ill while in a foreign country can be very distressing and not being able to understand
properly what the problem is or how a doctor intends to deal with this problem can be downright frightening for an
Because Indian populations in many areas are rapidly increasing, which also results in more visitors
coming over to visit their relatives living, for instance, in the
UK or the US, it is becoming increasingly important to have medical interpretation services ready at hand to
provide interpreters as and when needed.
Indian populations speak a wealth of different Indic languages, many of which then also have a host
of different regional dialects. It is consequently essential to select a service that can provide interpreters
which are fluent in most of these languages, as well as being aware of the cultural background of particular
In addition, these interpreters will naturally also have to have enough medical knowledge to know
what they are talking about when interpreting a doctor's diagnosis, for example. They also need to know the
regional non-medical terms for certain conditions, as highly technical medical terms and phrases may not be
understood even if perfectly translated.
Let's face it, few members of the population of any country will understand all medical terms or
medical jargon even in their own national language, let alone being faced with them in a foreign
So what should a health authority look for when choosing a medical interpretation service for Indian
languages? As already mentioned, the interpreters must have a good working knowledge of the particular languages
they have to translate information into, as well as obviously being fluent in the national language of the country
they are working in.
To ensure such knowledge, it is best to seek out services that have the necessary certifications of
interpreter/ translator training and experience. Native Indian speakers with the required training are obviously
the best choice, as they will be aware of regional cultures, traditions, sensitivities and so
Additionally, certain standards of medical knowledge will be required. A company with plenty of
experience, preferably using individuals who have worked within medical fields, should ideally be chosen.
Having certain certifications of translation standards, such as the ISO 9001:2008, or more
specifically the DIN EN 15038, a translation industry specific certification, will guarantee that the interpreters
will be capable of translating correctly for a patient.
Naturally, it is also essential to ensure that the interpreters used by a company are known to
strictly adhere to confidentiality rules and policies, which should be clearly outlined by the company offering
Finding a company that is able to interpret using as many of the Indian languages as possible will
avoid having to find and use interpreters from several different agencies, which can lead to difficulties as well
as loss of quality on occasion.
Patients have a right to request interpreters to assist them in overcoming language barriers. Making
sure they get the very best interpreters available is beneficial for both patients and