Language in healthcare is essential. An understanding and clear communication between the patient and the healthcare professional is very important — especially when it comes to treating and diagnosing patients. The best possible care can be achieved when a person is treated in a language they understand and are familiar with. This article will explore the importance of language in healthcare in South Africa.
One of the challenges that South Africa often faces in the healthcare system is language barrier. With 11 official languages, often people tend to speak different languages from each other. The language barrier often occurs when the healthcare professional and the patient do not speak the same native language or the patient is in a region where the majority of the population there speaks a language different from theirs. This often affects the cost and quality of healthcare and highlights the importance of language in healthcare in South Africa. Even with this as a challenge, it is important for healthcare professionals to provide high-quality healthcare services to all patients.
Importance of language in the healthcare system in South Africa
South Africa is a multicultural country, with people who speak a lot of different languages. It has 11 officially recognised languages, but English is mostly used in the healthcare system. This can sometimes pose difficulty and create language barriers as not everyone in South Africa can understand English. This language barrier can often bring about challenges in the healthcare system, especially if there is a misunderstanding between the patient and the healthcare professional — making it difficult to provide the best healthcare services possible.
It is also important that the healthcare professional and patient understand each other to avoid miscommunications and misdiagnoses, in order to maintain patient health.
Healthcare professionals must strive to provide patient-centred care to all their patients, this gives the impression that the patient will be well-taken care of and given the best services, this patient-centred care includes considering the patient’s language and culture in mind when treating them. Doing so decreases unequal treatment and healthcare disparities among patients who speak different languages from healthcare professionals and also highlights the importance of language in the healthcare system.
Language barrier in the healthcare system
Larger healthcare institutions often provide interpreter services in order to overcome the language barrier patients and healthcare professionals might face. This often eliminates miscommunication and improves healthcare access and patient satisfaction. But this also has a downside to it as it increases the duration and cost of the treatment.
Since South Africa is a multilingual country, with many spoken languages, at times is easier to find healthcare professionals who can speak more than two languages or a language that the patient speaks as well. Or finding another healthcare professional in the facility who speaks the same language as the patient. This can then break the language barrier between patient and healthcare professional ensuring that diagnosis and treatment are correct.
Google Translate is also one of the tools which can be used to overcome language barrier between the patient and the healthcare professional. Decreasing costs and increasing patient satisfaction and putting patient safety at the centre of everything else.
Medical Jargon in the healthcare profession
Communication in the healthcare profession isn’t only between patients and healthcare professionals. Often times healthcare professionals communicate with each other using different medical jargon to refer to some things in the field. This is another aspect of language which is important in the healthcare system and not only in South Africa but internationally as well. Healthcare professionals should be familiar with these medical jargons and terminology, and also add more to their vocabulary as the healthcare system evolves. This keeps them in tune with what is happening around them and up to par with other medical professionals. Imagine communicating with another healthcare professional and not understanding what they are saying to you, this endangers the patient’s health and safety.
Health professionals are not encouraged to use medical jargon with patients, as this will create a clear misunderstanding between the two and would leave the patient unsatisfied and confused, especially if the patient is not familiar with the medical field. Medical jargon is made specifically for healthcare professionals, this is often to make things easier and understandable for them and to shorten other medical terms when communicating with other healthcare professionals.
Language is important in the healthcare system it ensures that both patient and health practitioner understand each other and ensures that a patient is offered the best healthcare possible. This care can be ensured by eliminating all language barriers through the use of interpreters for those who do not speak the same language as the healthcare practitioner and ensuring smooth communication.
Spanish Interpretation services
Spanish Interpretation can provide interpretation services for both healthcare facilities and patients in the healthcare system. Our interpreters will help break the language barrier between the healthcare professional and the patient, making sure that they provide the best interpretation for both parties. We have high-quality interpreters who are well-vested in the medical field and will make sure that your medical needs are well met. They’ll ensure that communication runs smoothly and that you are offered equal healthcare services like everyone else and also ensure that no misdiagnosis may occur due to language barrier. For more information about our language interpretation services in the healthcare system, get in contact with us at 012 348 3134 | 081 347 6060 you can also email us at email@example.com | www.spanishtranslation.co.za.