Find out all that you need to know about medical translations, from their definition and their importance, to why they should only be done by a professional translator.
It is becoming increasingly common to read and hear about translation of content, including medical translations. No longer is it only that it may be useful for a user or consumer to translate an instruction manual, but there is a whole globalised world waiting for words to be in as many languages as possible.
Among the many possible translations, medical translations are perhaps the most complex ones. This type of translation requires the utmost expertise and professionalism, as lives may be at risk if not executed as accurately and meticulously as possible.
A medical text with errors or ambiguities is a bomb waiting to explode. Believe it or not, a mistranslation in a medical prescription or in the product description of a medicine can even lead to death. Let’s take a look at what medical translations are and what is involved in getting them right.
Medical translations explained..
Medical translation are more than the decoding of a medical text. A medical translation is the interpretation of a world of medical-related elements so that such a text can be read and correctly interpreted in different parts of the world regardless of the language spoken.
Medical translations involve different types of texts ranging from medical prescriptions to scientific articles in the field of medicine. They will be discussed later in this article, but in summary, it is a very diverse and complex field.
The importance of medical translations
The importance of translations of medical texts is as important as life itself. Yes, it is no exaggeration to say that a person’s life or death can depend on the quality of the translation of a medical text.
The slightest mistake can have dire consequences when it comes to medical translation. Likewise, a correct medical translation, executed by professionals, can help save a life and even the lives of hundreds, thousands or perhaps even millions of people.
Imagine a scenario where a medical book needs to be translated. Such a book would teach many things to thousands of medical students.
Let us now imagine for a moment that there is a single misconception or misunderstanding in the translation. Yes, there will be medical professionals who will notice the error, but a single person who misses it and gets carried away by the error could then be at the centre of serious negative consequences.
If you want to read about the risks in medical translation and how important it is, this article about dead by machine translation will give you more clues.
Types of medical translations
The world of medical translations, despite being a very specific field, can be extremely varied. There are many types of medical texts that can and should be translated, here are some of the most representative examples:
This is one of the most common and significant types of medical texts. It is not very often that a medical prescription needs to be translated, although it is certainly a possibility.
Some of the main scenarios for the translation of a medical prescription are as follows:
Patient travelling to another country where the language is different.
Doctor attending a patient from a distance in another language
As a requirement for some formality
Medical trials and experiments need to be translated, both in the description of their processes and in the collection and analysis of results. Such texts are often of great use in the field of medical research, which is why they are of international importance.
Medical reports are among the most frequently translated texts in the field of medicine. Such texts are often needed in different languages when a patient wants to consult several medical opinions. It is generally also important to translate reports as part of requirements for health insurance and other formalities.
Scientific medical articles
Medical research articles are certainly a classic example of the importance of internationalising content. Let us remember that this type of text is the representation of scientifically rigorous studies that make a very valuable contribution to humanity.
Furthermore, it must be borne in mind that this type of article is also the basis for other research. Therefore, a scientific article in English can serve as an input for other researchers whose mother tongue may be Spanish, Italian, French and so on.
Descriptions and instructions
After scientific articles, medical texts are no more widely translated than descriptions of medicinal products. Both the descriptions of medicines and their indications and instructions are a fundamental part of translations in this area.
It should be said that these types of translations go far beyond health, they are a fundamental part of even a global economic industry and therefore often require translations into many different languages. In our blog you can read more about the importance of translating product descriptions of all kinds here: https://oriontranslations.com/the-importance-of-translating-product-instructions/.
How should a medical translation be done?
Well, first things first: the translation of any medical content should be done by a true professional. There is often a mistaken belief that a doctor, who does not need to be a language expert but is an expert in medical matters, might be an ideal person to translate such texts.
This does not mean that medical knowledge is not important, but only true translation experts know to pick up on the nuances. This is what is known as technical English or instrumental English.
All in all, the correct way to translate texts related to medicine is to have the translation performed by a professional with the following characteristics:
An expert in languages, both in the original text and the one it will be translated into.
Years of experience with medical translations
Knowledge of linguistics that allows them to master dialectal and grammatical differences.
In short, you don’t need to be a doctor for a medical translation, but you do need to be a very language-savvy professional with extensive experience in the field of medical texts.
At Orion Translations we´ll be more than happy to help you with your medical translation efforts.Would you like a properly trained professional to translate your medical texts? Then contact us today for a quote!
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