As countries become more connected, healthcare organizations around the world continue to form new relationships with each other. Of course, globalization comes with the question of how to communicate easily and accurately. This is where medical document translation comes in.

What is medical translation?

Medical document translation is about changing text from one language into another, as accurately as possible. Unlike other industries such as marketing, medical translations need to exactly replicate the original text.

There are many reasons that medical documents might need to be translated. It could be instructions for an exported medical device, patient records, or test results, for example.

Who can translate medical documents?

It’s important to work with experienced professionals when it comes to healthcare industry translations. Firstly, medical terminology needs to be translated accurately. Any small translation errors could lead to big misunderstandings with serious consequences.

Secondly, it’s important to capture the right tone of voice for the audience. For example, a medical journal article is intended for industry professionals and will use more complex language and niche terminology than a patient information leaflet. If both documents were translated in the same way, the patient could be very confused or overwhelmed, leading to poor patient care.

What’s more, the translator needs to have an in-depth understanding of the languages they are translating into. Some words don’t have direct translations and need to be described, other words may have several similar translations. For example, in English, we often use both colloquial names and scientific names for illnesses.

Translators also need to be able to deal with bulk and high-volume translations, without compromising on quality. This means having the right processes in place.

The importance of medical translation

Providing accurate medical translations isn’t just important, it’s a necessity. Without access to the right information, serious errors can occur. It’s also important not to rely on ad hoc translations from bilingual or multilingual colleagues and partners.

Events in a hospital in eastern France show this very clearly. Between 2004 and 2005, massive overdoses of radiation were given to cancer patients there, leading to several deaths.

Investigations revealed that there were several issues in the hospital, including a lack of translation for staff. The dose designing software was only available in English and no French manual was available. Hospital administration reportedly relied on bilingual staff who used the software.

Translation in different healthcare fields

Healthcare is a broad and varied industry which means there are many different types of documents that could need translating. Below, you can find just a few examples of this broad range of texts:

  • Medical device manuals
  • Packaging texts
  • Computer software
  • Test results
  • Contracts
  • Patient records
  • Academic papers

Of course, there are links with other industries too. For example, medical patent translation combines legal and medical knowledge. Meanwhile, medical advertising translations also require marketing expertise.

At Future Group, we work with a team of specialist translators who have the knowledge and skills to provide the highest quality medical document translations. We work to ISO 17100 standards, so you can be confident in the translations you receive.

To find out more, please reach out to our team, who will call you back shortly.