Medical Translator (pocket): Patient Interviews in 14 Languages

Me comprende? Est-ce que vous me comprenez? Verstehen sie mich? Do you understand me? That is the essential question in Bruckmeier Publishing’s Medical Translator (pocket) guide will help you answer. The pocket translator is, as its name implies, pocket-sized and easy to carry. It contains 581 useful questions and phrases that medical providers use on a daily basis, translated into the 14 languages most commonly used in the U.S., including Arabic, Chinese, French, German and Spanish. All translations include phonetic representations for easy use.

The guide is divided into 25 sections, beginning with basic reception and admissions. The questions presented cover the body, almost geographically. The sections — while covering common medications and allergies — also go over the lungs, heart and vessels, as well as neurology and psychiatry. The book concludes with exchanges related to examination, diagnosis and treatment. The logical organization guides the provider through the patient encounter step by step, with key information clearly marked and easy to locate.

Those are the nuts and bolts of this guide, but how about the question that started it all: Do you understand me? This guide certainly gives the medical provider tools to understand patients’ conditions and needs. However, it’s not very well suited for use in the field. The essential problem with all translation books is that, once you ask the question in the foreign language, especially if you do so in a manner that conveys proficiency, you get a rapid-fire answer you can’t possibly understand without the help of a live translator. Being able to effectively question patients is only half the battle; being able to understand their answers is really the trick. Some “yes/no” questions are included in the text, but many will elicit a longer answer. This guide is better suited for use in a medical office or other clinical settings (where more translation resources are likely at hand) than in the back of an ambulance.

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