Medical interpreters play several important roles in a clinical setting where multiple languages are spoken. Beyond real-time translation, medical interpreters are culturally aware and can communicate important concepts, as well as extract crucial information throughout a patient’s care timeline. Accurate medical interpretation is not only important for patient health and safety, but also required by law in the United States to ensure complete understanding of treatments and risks. COVID-19, however, has caused many patients’ voices to go unheard due to a lack of resources as well as general oversight.

In the multilingual clinical setting, there is a risk of a concept being misunderstood by either the caregiver or the caretaker. This is especially pronounced in culturally unique situations, as Robert Stucky points out in his “Lost in Translation: The Need for Cultural Competence and Medical Interpretation for Patient Safety,” piece. For example, a patient who is a native speaker of Spanish and not of English could misread the prescription label, “take once a day,” as “take eleven times a day,” because the word, “once,” means “eleven,” in Spanish. Having a professional medical interpreter to explain dosage uses could prevent unnecessary calamity.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, medical interpreters have been at the front lines of patient management and care. Unfortunately, in many early cases, in-person interpreters were not given protective gear while working with patients suspected of carrying COVID-19 due to mass shortages of PPE, making the dangers of spreading COVID-19 ultimately much higher. While most hospitals are and have been working to establish remote interpretation services, either through internal or outsourcing measures, there are still some that do not have the proper resources or infrastructure to make the transition as quickly as needed.

Natalya Mytareva, executive director of the Certification Commission for Health Care Interpreters (CCHI), a US national certifying body for medical interpreters, comments, “What I think the pandemic highlights is the actual preparedness to serve patients who don’t speak English. If a hospital didn’t have [language access] set up pre-pandemic, now it would definitely be at a loss, grasping for how to coordinate.” As hospitals and other healthcare organizations struggle to catch up, patients that do not speak English are left vulnerable in these overcrowded facilities. As a result of this, further problems can arise post COVID-19, as patients who have been overlooked during these trying times may lose faith in their healthcare provider or center and not seek medical treatment in the future.

The importance of accurate, remote medical translation and interpretation is critical to help reach patients in different languages and to bridge cultural borders. CSOFT Health Sciences understands the importance of bringing patient-centric care as well as ensuring cultural competency for patients in all forms of translation are essential components in our multilingual world. We provide on-demand, expert over-the-phone (OTP) and video interpretation solutions for healthcare providers and organizations in over 250 languages through our advanced cloud-based AI technology. With subject matter expert linguists that have a minimum of seven years of experience, we understand the importance of clear communication and quick turnaround times for any life sciences project, particularly during pandemic times.

Learn more about our COVID-19 Emergency Response Team (CERT) and how we are helping life science companies reach patients globally during these trying times here.

About CSOFT Health Sciences

CSOFT Health Sciences provides end-to-end medical translations for all phases of the product lifecycle, from pre-clinical to post-launch. We also specialize in market access consulting, medical writing, and CTD/eCTD submissions with the FDA, EMA, and NMPA. Our operations are compliant with ISO 17100 and certified in ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13485:2016, ensuring our customized solutions meet the rigorous regulatory requirements of global submissions.

About CSOFT

CSOFT International is a leading provider of cross-border communications for enterprises seeking growth in global markets. Our expertise in localization, documentation, and branding encompasses a full range of end-to-end content and consulting services that we deliver in over 250 languages. With a focus in health sciences and smart technology, we work closely with our clients to deliver precision solutions to the challenges of engaging markets, consumers, and regulatory environments worldwide.