4 Important Tips For Any Medical Translation Project

by | May 9, 2018

One of the most important parts of translating is ensuring it’s delivered to the client on time and is accurate. This is more important than ever for medical translations, since clients are totally dependent on the accuracy of the translation. You also need the right translation workflows in the medical industry to ensure the medical translation product goes according to plan.

The points below are essential to guaranteeing a high-quality medical translation.

1. Who is the target audience and what is their culture?

If you’ve been asked by a company selling a medical device to other countries to translate important documents related to the device, it’s vital that you know who will be the recipient of the device. This is all part of translation management.

For example, the target language might be Spanish, but the group the client wants you to target could be in Mexico, Argentina, or Spain, or maybe in all three countries. Generally speaking, any Spanish speaker, wherever they are from, will understand the Spanish language. When it comes to more technical Spanish, which is used in a medical translation, there may be terms that one country might prefer over another. This might lead make the message of the translation uncertain unless it has been adapted to suit a particular country and its culture. It’s essential to adapt a translation to suit the intended audience, and that might mean undertaking some research before the translation is started.

2. Do you know the medical subject matter?

As a translator who is translating important medical documents, you should be fully conversant with the subject matter of the source document. Also, if it’s a medical device manual that’s being translated, the information and tone of the manual will be different for the medical professional than the recipient of the medical device. You, as a translator, will need to know how to translate for the medical professional as well as the recipient of the device, using language that can be understood in both situations. In many cases, a medical device may require two translated manuals for the two targeted audiences.

3. Who is taking part in the medical translation process?

For any medical translation, it’s crucial that that everyone involved in the translation workflow is a native speaker of the target language and also from the country that’s being targeted in the translation. So for example, if it’s a Spanish translation of some medical documents targeting the Mexican market, the translator should be a native Mexican. This ensures the translation fits the culture of the recipient of the translation. The translator must fully understand medical technology, and if there’s any concern that a medical document is too difficult for the translator to understand, then they aren’t qualified to do the translation.

At the minimum, each translation team should consist of a lead translator and a lead editor. There should also be a proofreader who ensures the translated content is checked for typos and grammar and spelling mistakes.

4. How will you know the client is totally satisfied with the final medical translation?

You should ask the client to go through a client approval and review process. Often, a client doesn’t provide any guidelines in the first place. If they are first-time clients, they may not have any translated medical documents for you to use. If you’re in this situation, you must tell the client to carefully read through the final translation and give feedback on any changes that should be made. You can then do the changes, and in the end your client will be satisfied.

Finally, products developed by the medical industry reach clients throughout the world, so there has never been a better time for translators to learn the skills of medical translation. Even with improvement of machine translations, the medical industry needs accuracy to avoid lawsuits that might ensue if someone misunderstands how to use a product. Human translators have that mark of accuracy that machine translators will never have.

Alison Williams

Content Writer

Alison has been involved in writing with the translation industry since 2011 and has worked with a number of translation companies.
Medtrans is one of them, which focuses on medical translation.

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