When it comes to medical care, whether it’s updating patient records, conducting consultations or providing treatment, accurate and appropriate medical translation is vital; life-saving, even in some cases. In the UK today, like many other countries, people from a wide range of multicultural backgrounds don’t speak the country’s first language, and medical translation services are required. Below, we share why a professional medical translation service helps to improve healthcare delivery.
What is involved in medical translation?
Medical translation can include the translation of written documents, for example, patient records, surgical procedure notes, treatment plans and informed consent. It can also be required for files such as case studies, clinical trials, medical regulations, training documents and pharmacological instructions.
Medical translation services also provide support with medical interpretation. This requirement involves engaging a medical interpreter to convey information verbally across a language barrier between two people. For example, this could be a doctor and patient or their family. Medical interpreting can be carried out in person, on the telephone or via video consultation.
What challenges are there in medical translation?
Medical interpreting has its own unique challenges. Therefore, for the purposes of this blog, we will focus on written medical translation services.
Medical language can be highly technical. It uses clinical terminology and abbreviations that are unique to the sector but that can be applied differently in other languages or countries. It also deals with complicated subject matters, ones which doctors and medical professionals have spent years studying to gain the necessary knowledge.
Medical terminology uses multiple word registers, adding further difficulty for medical translation services. Multiple word registers mean that different terms are used to refer to the same thing, depending on the audience or context. For example, we may talk about high and low blood pressure in everyday language. In medical terms, these conditions are known as hypertension and hypotension. Doctors will refer to the epidermis, whereas we will talk about our skin in common use.
While medical translation is very challenging due to its complexity, its accuracy is critical. When translating medical documents, you cannot afford to make an error; the impact could be life-threatening.
The medical industry is a fast-moving sector, which presents a further challenge for medical translation services. Medical scientists continually work to understand the human body better and how to deliver improved treatment. This work means that medical knowledge is always moving forward, and its language evolves alongside these advances.
Why is it essential to partner with a professional medical translation services provider?
With the challenges outlined above, it is clear that medical translation requires specialists. Translators must have in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of the subject area, whether through first-hand experience or meticulous, regular study.
A professional medical translation service provider will only work with translators who have this proven knowledge. It means they can accurately translate the specific medical terminology in the files and apply it correctly depending on the context or country in which it is to be used. With even the slightest error potentially causing a critical impact, working with professional medical translation services is vital for ensuring an accurate result.
Medical-specialist translators should also be native to the target country and living in the country. Having in-country experience is crucial for understanding cultural context and nuance. Therefore, native medical-specialist translators will understand which ‘register’ or word level to use and when.
Applying this understanding in a translation will ensure it has the intended impact on the reader, resulting in better healthcare delivery. Word-for-word or literal translation often will not have this effect and can result in confusion or offence.
Professional medical translation services will also employ certified quality control measures to monitor the accuracy of their work, for example, working with equally qualified editors and proofreaders and using approved translation memory for medical terminology.
Having these measures in place, a professional medical translation partner can deliver an accurate, trustworthy service that enhances patient care and supports better treatment delivery.
Mission Translate is a medical and pharmaceutical specialist translation provider. Recognising the crucial importance of accuracy in our delivery, we employ all of the measures discussed to provide a high-quality service that supports the work of our healthcare partners.