Widespread access to clear information is vital in the medical sector. Medical translation services play a huge part in communicating new discoveries, avoiding misunderstandings, and encouraging international collaboration. When it comes to the pandemic, sharing knowledge globally can save lives locally.
What is medical translation?
Medical translation relates to any field of medicine or healthcare. Medical translation services are vital wherever speakers of two or more different languages need access to the same information. This could be between medical staff and drug/equipment companies, when giving information to foreign patients and speakers of minority languages, or when distributing research findings.
Translated texts include documents aimed at patients, medical staff, students, advisory bodies, the general public, and teaching staff. Example documents in need of translation include:
– Complex medical documents: research papers, case studies, clinical trials
– Labels and instructions for imported drugs and equipment
– Legal documents: contracts, patents, etc.
– Documents for patients: e.g. information leaflets, consent forms
– Educational materials for teachers and students: online learning platforms, textbooks
– Reports, case notes, and discharge summaries
– Medical marketing materials
During COVID-19, sharing information between countries and with local speakers of different languages has played a vital part in treating, monitoring, and finding a vaccine for the virus. From reaching people in isolated communities to facilitating international professional collaboration, professional translations from medical translation companies are key.
Accuracy in medical translation
An error in any one of the documents listed above could have serious, even life-threatening, consequences. Delivering accurate information is also a legal issue; errors leave organizations vulnerable to legal action.
Getting the right information to medical staff
Between 2004 and 2005, huge overdoses of radiation were given to cancer patients at a hospital in eastern France, resulting in several deaths. According to the results of the subsequent investigation, a language barrier contributed to the error. The radiation dose software was only available in English, and no French user manual was available. The hospital staff was relying on bilingual team members who used the software.
Accurate translations could’ve helped to prevent this tragedy. Relying on informal solutions to communicate information in a foreign language leaves room for error which can lead to fatalities.
Using the right language inpatient documents
Translating patient information requires not only 100% accuracy but also a balance between simple language and medical detail. Capturing the right tone to engage patients while delivering information at the right level is vital in translation.
For example, translations that use overly scientific language, such as the Latin names for medical conditions, might confuse rather than educate. Likewise, oversimplification can lead to information loss.
Similarly, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest conventions on patient-friendly language in a specific country or medical sector. One example is using people-first language. This focuses on the person rather than their disability or illness. Phrases such as “people with diabetes” are favored over “diabetic people”.
Medical translation services provide professional support by translating patient information accurately. This avoids creating misunderstandings, leaving gaps in knowledge, and even causing offense.
Publishing research papers in multiple languages
Many major research journals are published in English, which leads to a lack of information in certain languages. Moreover, research papers that are translated, but not by native experts, don’t always deliver the same information, in the same way, in both languages.
A 2015 paper from the University of Gdansk looked at the differences in a Polish source text and its English translation by native Polish speakers. Findings included non-natural-sounding English, sentences that are more explicit in one language, and shifts in style between the texts.
At times, changes might be necessary to meet a publisher’s requirements. But translators need to be aware of conventions for different types of documents. They need to navigate these intricacies to deliver the full information. This is best done by medical translation companies who have the right expertise and proven experience.
At Future Trans, we have over 25 years of experience in translation. Our medical translation services are carried out by native-speaking professionals with relevant qualifications and training. Our extensive experience means that we can navigate even the most technical topics in MENA languages. Find out how we can help with your project