When it comes to a hospital’s translation needs, the first thing most people are likely to think of is the importance of translating medical documents like patient histories and doctors’ instructions.
But charts and histories aren’t the only things that should appear in multiple languages. Hospitals can improve patient care – and make life easier for hospital staff – by taking medical translation one step further and preparing basic hospital policies in other languages as well.
What Should Be Translated in Hospitals?
There are a number of items that hospitals should consider translating. Basic information posted around the hospital can benefit from a multilingual presence, including visiting hours, hospital maps, evacuation plans and directional signs. A hospital is a big place, so the ability to navigate it depends on understanding posted directions.
Translating documents like intake forms can also be helpful, in order to begin treatment with the most accurate information available. Similarly, informational documents (pamphlets about vaccinations, for example) should be considered for translation, so that educational efforts reach a wider audience.
It’s also important to translate instructional signs. These are the signs that inform patients and visitors of hospital policies such as prohibiting the use of cell phones or encouraging appropriate sanitary precautions.
Who Benefits from Hospital Translation?
Translation of basic items like those listed above is a huge help to patients and visitors. A trip to the hospital, whether you are going for your own treatment or to visit a loved one, tends to be a stressful experience. Having difficulty understanding basic hospital information and instructional signs and documents can make that experience even more stressful.
Aside from the obvious benefit provided to patients and visitors, translation in hospitals can also help medical staff. Rather than spending time trying to explain hospital policies – like the aforementioned cell phone ban – to foreign language speakers, hospital staff can concentrate on other elements of their job and work more efficiently. This benefits both hospital staff, who can work without distraction, and patients expecting prompt care.
Further Improving Communication in Hospitals
Of course, it’s impossible to translate every single thing in a hospital into every language! But hospital administrators and support staff who work with patients on a regular basis probably have a good idea of which languages are most prevalent among visitors, as well as what signs, forms and policies inspire the most questions or confusion. These are the materials that should be among the first to be translated, concentrating on the most common spoken and written languages.
It’s important to remember that if a foreign language speaker arrives for treatment or visitation, translation of items like instructional signs can help him with the basics – but additional translation or interpreting services will be necessary to facilitate the patient’s actual care. Knowing how to reach qualified medical interpreters and translators is therefore a good idea.
By offering translation of medical forms and hospital information, hospitals can provide even better care to their patients, regardless of language.