While most types of translation are difficult to do, one of the most difficult is medical translation or translation in the medical field, which is almost at par with the difficulty in translating for the legal field. It is exacting work and needs careful attention to details and terminologies. In its most basic definition, medical translation is translating the training, software, regulatory, technical, and clinical curriculum, as well as marketing documentation for healthcare fields, medical device or pharmaceutical devices and information.
It is a requirement for most countries to have the labeling and literature associated with pharmaceutical materials and medical devices being sold to be translated in the languages officially used in each country. Likewise, most documents needed for the conduct of clinical trials are required to be translated so that the local patients and clinicians as well as regulatory representatives would be able to read and understand them. In the same vein, submissions of materials for regulatory approval also need to be translated into the required language.
Even the skills of medical translators are specific. Other than skills in linguistics, translators must also have deep knowledge of the subject matter and specific training in the medical field before they could translate content that relates to any of the medical fields. This is due to the fact the medical texts are regulated, sensitive and very technical in nature.
Healthcare has many standards to follow. In the United States alone, providers of healthcare must see to it that their patients who have limited knowledge of English still have access to accurately translated medical information in their native language. Various regulatory agencies such as Medicare, The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), and the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) require medical practitioners and service providers to strictly follow the accessibility guidelines, requirements for privacy and standards set forth for professional medical translation. The guidelines also cover Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996.
Medical translation process
Like other document translations, medical translation like involves several steps.
1. The text is extracted from the source document.
2. Text (content) is translated into the requested (target) language.
3. Translated text is read and revised (as needed) by a different person. This is to ensure that the translation adheres to the appropriate voice and style as well as the permitted terminology.
4. The translated text is published in its original format, which could be as an e-learning content, web page or a document in MS Word.
5. The translated text is proofread to make sure that it will display correctly in the required format. Proofreading ensures that corrupted text is not present in the translated version, the right page and line brakes have been followed and the correct punctuations are all in place.
6. The translated text will go through in-country review. This means that the translation will be seen by an expert native speaker of the target language, to see to it that the translation meets all the specifics of product or therapy, as well as the technical specifications required by the client.
Translated medical texts should always be of high quality because of its very nature, as they affect people’s lives. It is a highly regulated industry and companies requiring the translation of their written content normally work with translation service provides that are compliant or certified either in the quality standard system or ISO 9001, EN15038 (European standard for all translators and translation companies) and the standard for medical devices manufacturing, called ISO 13485.
Skills required of medical translators
Healthcare translator is another term that could be used for medical translator. This is an individual who has the skills to convert medical texts and the required linguistic skills. In a medical clinic or a hospital setting, the translator is responsible for converting the informational brochures of hospitals, pharmacological instructions, the written information of patients and the diagnoses and advice of attending physicians. There are medical translators who are experts in the translation of instructions needed for the proper use of medical devices and equipment.
Not only are medical translators required to be fluent in the source and target languages; they should be able to comprehend the complex medical concepts and technologies, which is why a background in medical science is needed. They are required to express, convert and simplify complicated ideas so that an ordinary person would be able to understand them. Knowing how to deal with cultural sensitivity issues is a must. The medical translator must also know when to use the English term for a disease and when to use their direct equivalent in the target language. Maintaining confidentiality is also part of the responsibility of a medical translator when translating physician-patient documents into a target language.
Medical translation handles various translations in many medical fields, from clinical data, various medical documents, manuals, instructions, and software documents for medical devices used in Anesthesiology to Urology. Likewise, the medical field requires the translation of various types of documents, from adverse events, case reports, clinical trials, contracts to package labels and inserts, protocols, regulatory audits to articles for scientific journals and more.