The world aging population, long waiting lists for treatment, and continuous rise in out-of-pocket medical costs are among the issues indicate health tourism as a growing market. So it is noteworthy to devote our meticulous attention to this developing industry.
Like any fast growing industry, many different factors affect health tourism among which quality of service is the most important one. Obviously, the presence of medical translator plays an important role in the quality of translation as it has its leading role in sharing the results of a medical research, publication of new discoveries in the global scientific community and marketing new products of medicinal and medical equipment (
1). Therefore, it seems that attracting health tourists is a new important role of translation.
Health tourism has been long viewed as a lucrative business for developed countries, but thanks to Iran’s recent medical developments, there is a growing tendency among foreign patients toward receiving medical treatment in Iran. The existence of shortcomings in health tourism market may cause low level of tourists’ satisfaction and low tendency toward Iranian hospitals. It seems that availability of specialized translators in health care service is one of the essential factors in providing better opportunities in this field. Furthermore, written materials, such as health surveys, patient consents, patient’s surgery summery and patient’s discharge summery, etc are all among the vital documents that should be precisely translated and given to the patients for future follow up. Further investment is needed for developing health tourism industry as a whole and training of professional medical interpreters /translators should be considered as the main part of this investment. The importance of this subject appeared in an article by Karwacka who believed that translation and interpretation are infrequently considered as health care researchers’ focus unless a bad translation causes very serious clinical consequences, including health or life threat, or becomes the reason for lawsuit or economic claims (
There have been several studies on medical translators and interpreters. In an article, Karwacka argues the quality of medical translation, the qualifications of a good medical translator, trainings that we can provide for a medical translator, and managing the translation quality for medical sectors (
2). She continues that it is essential to certify adequate standards of quality in medical interpreting and translation ( 2).
Heine cited that if a physician is unable to obtain vital information from a patient due to failure in communication, health or life-threatening situations may be the result (
Therefore, based on what mentioned earlier, there is a growing real need for trained medical interpreters and translators to ease the communication between patients and physicians and to introduce new medical equipment and new medical services. As it was mentioned earlier, by training specialized translators in important fields like medical translators, we can benefit and boost our economy. However, as Karwacka pointed out, medical translation quality needs to be increased, particularly qualification of translators’ and training methods of translators.
Flores studied the errors which were made during interpretation; he also studied their regularity, categories and possible clinical results in medical sector. Data obtained from audio recordings and transcripts of a hospital outpatient polyclinic revealed that errors in medical interpretation are fairly common (
The average number of errors was thirty-one per session, and potential clinical consequences were seen in 63% of all errors. Among all the errors, the five following categories were obtainable- “omission, addition, substitution, editorialisation, and false fluency”. She argued that the random intermediaries who are not educated in translation or medicine, e.g. children, other members of family or hospital staffs who are bilingual, make the most numbers of mistakes. Moreover, the most frequent type of error was omission (