Start of Main Content

Qualified Medical Interpreter

What is a qualified medical interpreter?

A qualified medical interpreter is someone with the ability to effectively, accurately, and impartially interpret medical terminology and phraseology and communicate this information directly to a patient. When conveying medical information to patients, qualified medical interpreters aim to do so compassionately and with respect to the patient’s confidentiality.

To become a qualified medical interpreter, a person must pass a skills-based assessment proving their interpreting ability. Additionally, interpreters must follow the National Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice published by the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care.

Why are qualified medical interpreters important in healthcare?

Some patients may rely on a family member to act as their interpreter, especially if the family member has a higher level of English proficiency. However, it is common for family members to be emotionally involved or unable to fully grasp the medical terms.

Using a qualified medical interpreter guarantees that medical terminology is correctly interpreted and conveyed, improving communication between the patient and their provider.

Furthermore, it has been shown that using a qualified medical interpreter is a critical contributor to health equity and can:

  • increase the number of recommended preventive care services received
  • increase the number of office visits patients have with their healthcare providers
  • lead to the filling of more prescriptions for medication