Medical Spanish Cheat Sheet #1: Sore Throat H&P

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could wave a magic wand and become instantly fluent in Spanish?  

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

But sometimes there are shortcuts that actually work.

Today I’ll share with you one such shortcut:

My first medical Spanish “cheat sheet”, for Spanish-speaking patients presenting with a sore throat or URI symptoms.

Hope it helps!

Can You Really Take a Shortcut?

In reality, learning a new language is a process, and requires consistent effort over time.  

But in some cases, if you can determine exactly what you need to be able to say (or ask) in another language, you can take a “magical” shortcut by learning just the words or phrases needed for that specific situation.

For instance, you probably ask the same 10-20 questions to every one of your patients who comes into the ER (or the clinic) with chest pain, or abdominal pain, or a headache…or whatever their medical complaint may be.  

So what if you just got really good at asking those 10-20 questions in Spanish?

That’s the idea behind the guide I’m sharing today.  

This two-page medical Spanish cheat sheet pdf can guide you through a history and physical exam in Spanish for a patient with a chief complaint of “sore throat” (and would mostly cover other URI complaints as well).  

Sore throat isn’t the most common chief complaint we see, but it’s certainly common.

Obviously, you can’t use this guide for all your patients. But I plan to create similar guides for other chief complaints & common scenarios as well.  Think of this one as a trial run.

Below you’ll find a few more details about the guide, images of what it looks like, and a form you can use to claim a copy.

What’s In This Medical Spanish Translation Cheat Sheet pdf?

  • English and Spanish phrases side-by-side.
  • Useful questions to ask when taking a history on a patient with this chief complaint.
  • Commands to guide the patient through a basic physical exam for this complaint.
  • Some statements and explanations about testing, treatment, or what you think the diagnosis is.

What The Cheat Sheet CAN Do For You:

  • Help you perform a Spanish H&P more efficiently, in uncomplicated cases.
  • Allow you to at least get started without waiting for an interpreter to arrive, or calling a language line.
  • Give you a study resource to get familiar with common Spanish vocab related to URI’s.

What The Cheat Sheet CAN’T Do For You:

  • Tell you how to pronounce the words. To use it properly, you need to know the basics of Spanish pronunciation.  
  • Give you every question or statement you could possibly need…that would require a ten-pound textbook.  (But it can probably give you 80% of what you need with 20% of the effort.)
  • Interpret the patient’s answer for you. But luckily most of the questions are in yes / no format.

Here’s what the current version looks like:

This is page 2 (or the back of a 2-sided sheet):

Get a Copy of the Sore Throat / URI Cheatsheet

To download the cheat sheet as a PDF, enter your info below.

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How To Use This Medical Spanish Dialogue Cheat Sheet

While I wouldn’t recommend walking into a room and reading from the guide without any preparation–that would tend to be very clunky–if you’ve at least read through it a couple times and practiced the pronunciation until you feel comfortable, then you’re ready to give it a whirl!

Being able to pronounce the words properly is key, so work on that first.

Naturally, each provider has his or her own unique style style, and these questions & statements are based on my own perspective.  So take it with a grain of salt.

I also recognize this guide isn’t suited for every medical specialty or profession–not everybody takes care of sore throats and URI’s.  

This guide is meant to be from the perspective of an ER / urgent care / primary care provider. But I imagine some of the terminology would be useful for other situations as well.  Eventually I’ll create some more targeted resources for other professions and specialties.

Disclaimer:  These resources are meant to help providers learn to use Spanish with their patients.  Anyone who is not able to communicate effectively and clearly in the patient’s preferred language should use a qualified interpreter whenever possible.

That being said, what do you think about the guide?  What would you do differently?  Can you see yourself using it in practice?  What other guides would be most helpful? Feel free to let me know. 🙂


I hope this medical Spanish cheat sheet for sore throat / URI is helpful.

I tried to make it somewhat versatile so you can use it for various different situations.

In the future, I’ll be showing more resources like this, for different professions, chief complaints, scenarios, etc. (I’ve already shared some emergency medicine Spanish vocab, but I’ll be adding more to that soon.)

In the meantime, if you wanna improve your basic Spanish, check out my list of essential Spanish words, how I relearned a language pretty quickly (when I went back to Thailand), or some more general language learning tips.

Hope it helps, and thanks for visiting!

The "Learn Medical Spanish" Podcast

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