Medical Writing Medical Communication Gained in Translation

Volume 25, Issue 2 - Medical Communication

Gained in Translation



We may pose many questions about translation, but the most frequent in the specific literature is “why translation matters?” In my opinion, however, the question should be rephrased as, “For whom is translation important?” The answer might seem obvious, but if so, why are translators and interpreters underused in medical settings?


  1. Diamond LC, Schenker Y et al. Getting by: underuse of interpreters by resident physic - ians. J Gen Intern Med 2009;24(2):256-62.
  2. Foundation House. Exploring barriers and facilitators to the use of qualified interpreters in health. 2012 [cited 2016 May 21]. Available from:
  3. Bansal A., Swann J, Smithson WH. Using professional interpreters in undergraduate medical consultation skills teaching. Adv Med Educ Pract 2014;5:439-50.
  4. Office for National Statistics. 2011 Census analysis of English language proficiency in England and Wales. 2013 [cited 2016 May 21]. Available from:
  5. Disability Resource Centre. Deafness, UK Statistics & Facts [cited 2015 July 10]. Available from:
  6. Whatley M, Batalova J. Limited English proficient population in the United States. Migration Policy Institute. 2015 [last accessed 2016 May 21]. Available from:
  7. Lin FR, Niparko JK, Ferrucci L. Hearing loss prevalence in the United States. Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(20):1851-2.
  8. Pottie K. Language proficiency, recent immigrants, and global health disparities. Can Fam Physician 2007;53(11):1899-1901.
  9. [No authors listed]. Managing patients with limited English proficiency. Pa Patient Saf Advis 2011 Mar;8(1):26-33.
  10. Gan S. Lost in translation. Lost in translation. How much is translation costing the NHS, and how can we both cut costs and improve service provision? London, UK:; 2012. Available from:
  11. Ward V. NHS spends £11 million on interpreters. The Telegraph. 2012 Dec 26 [cited 2016 May 21]. Available from:
  12. Gill PS, Beavan J Calvert M, Freemantle N. The unmet need for interpreting provision in UK primary care. PLoS ONE 2011; 6(6):e20837
  13. National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism Developing quality cost effective interpreting & translating services for government service providers in Ireland. Dublin: NCCRI; 2008.
  14. Shen A, Kruger J et al. From admission to discharge: patterns of interpreters use among residents physicians. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2014;25(4):1784-98
  15. Quan K. The high costs of language barriers in medical malpractice. Eds Lichtman Spector S, Youdelman M. Berkeley, CA: University of California-Berkeley School of Public Health; 2010.
  16. Phillips C. Using interpreters, a guide for GPs. Australian Family Physician 2010;39(4):188-195.
  17. Rivera JM, Hausmann-Muela S, Grietens KP, Toomer E. Is the use of interpreters in medical consultations justified? A critical review of the literature. Pass International; 2008.
  18. Wright C. NHS ‘failing those who don’t speak English’. BBC News; 2010 Sep 3 [cited 2016 May 23]. Available from:
  19. Wilson-Stronks A, Galvez E. Hospitals, language, and culture: a snapshot of the Nation. The Joint Commission, 2007.
  20. Freedom of Information Act 2000, NHS Foundation Trust, 2013
  21. Adan v. Davis (1998), Ont. Gen. Div, 43 CCLT (2d) 262
  22. Quintanilla v Dunkelman (2005), 133 Cal. App. 4th 95, No B171789
  23. Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. Deaf patient denied access to BSL interpreter at GP practice. 2014 Jun [cited 2016 May 23]. Available from:
  24. Swinbourne C. How long before a deaf person dies in hospital for want of an interpreter? The Guardian. 2014 Jan 20. [cited 2016 May 23]. Available from:
  25. Tribe R, Thompson K. Working with interpreters in health settings. Guidelines for psychologists. Leicester, UK: The British Psychological Society; 2008.



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Medical Gems
The request for proposal process: A brief overview for trainee medical writers
Winners of the Geoff Hall Scholarship Essay Competition
Abstracts from the EMWA Spring Conference Poster Session
News from the EMA
Journal Watch
In the Bookstores
The Webscout
Regulatory Matters
Lingua Franca and Beyond
Gained in Translation
Medical Writing Teaching
Profile - An Interview with Juliane Chaccour - Writing in Mozambique
Letter to the Editor
Out On Our Own

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