Struggling to understand the medics in a foreign hospital? EMS’s translation service can help

In an ideal world, liaising with a foreign hospital would be straightforward. You’d have regular, helpful feedback from the doctors and nurses, the medical reports would be clear and easy to understand, and the process for getting your patient out of the hospital and back home for further treatment would be simple.

In reality, it doesn’t always work out like that.

Struggling to understand the medics

Why? One of the main reasons is that good, clear communication doesn’t always happen as it should in every medical institution around the world. For instance, a family get a call to say their loved one has been rushed to hospital while on holiday. They ring the hospital but can’t get through to the doctors. When they do eventually reach a doctor, he can’t tell them much about their patient’s illness and treatment plan. They’re promised an update but it doesn’t happen. They become increasingly frustrated and desperate. They just don’t know what to do to help their loved one.

Another major problem, however, is that even if you can reach the foreign medical team, they won’t necessarily speak your own language – or even a second language like English. This happens much more often than you might think, even in major European countries. Take this scenario described by Mr Oliva, a gentleman who contacted EMS Air Ambulance & Medical Repatriation for emergency medical help in late 2021.

“My partner had a terrible motorbike accident in a foreign country,” he recalls, writing about the experience afterwards on our Google Reviews page. “We were in a public hospital, in a small island, and [the] doctors did not speak English.”

Understandably, the whole situation was extremely confusing. Yet, sadly, this sort of experience isn’t unusual. Our logistics team have encountered customers who weren’t able to find English-speaking doctors in hospitals in Romania, Poland and Ukraine – countries where you might have expected it.

How EMS Air Ambulance & Medical Repatriation can help

Having a loved one in hospital is stressful enough on its own. You shouldn’t have to deal with communication and language problems on top. The good news is that our team faces this kind of issue all the time, so we know how to handle it. We run hundreds of repatriations across the world every year, and a significant number of those involve foreign doctor teams who can only communicate in their local language.

Going direct to the foreign hospital: The first thing to say is that, when you ask EMS to get involved with your case, we step in to deal with the hospital direct. Our experienced doctors will make contact with the team in charge of your patient, and they’ll ask for the latest medical updates and their medical report. This is a crucial step in determining whether, or how quickly, we can get to their bedside and bring them home.

Finding the right language quickly: EMS already has a number of different languages within our global staff team, including Spanish, German, French, Dutch, Italian and Russian (you can view some of these on the Our Teams page on our website). And if we don’t have the required language on our team? Then we’ll quickly bring that expertise in with a local translation service. We can arrange for the medical report to be translated from the local language, and book a local translator on the ground to interpret for us as we deal with the foreign doctor team. It’s all part of the service and we’re very happy to do this if it proves necessary.

Wherever your patient is in the world, and however difficult the communication channels, you shouldn’t have to struggle to find out what’s happening with your loved one and their onward care. We’ll make sure you get the help you need.

As Mr Oliva explained, a little outside assistance and expertise can make all the difference to a complex and distressing situation:

EMS Air Ambulance & Medical Repatriation provided me with support in the medical situation and guidance on how to proceed,” he concludes. “While I never end[ed] up using the service, the attention and guidance provided in a very difficult moment, was indeed, outstanding.

Contact us

Are you struggling to communicate with doctors in a foreign hospital? Call EMS and we’ll see what we can do to help. There’s always a way, and our team are always happy to help you find the right solution. Just drop us a line on one of our Contact numbers, or click the WhatsApp button in the bottom-right corner of the website. Whatever you need, we’re here for you.

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