One mistake can change everything. Even more so if we are talking about a medical translation, in which case you have to be particularly careful. It is health that is at stake.

That is why it is not worth risking a mistake, and it is best to work with medical translators who know how to approach these kinds of texts.

In this article, we recommend points to bear in mind when hiring this type of service. Take the fate of your medical translations into your own hands and keep reading.

Controversy is rife

Medical translations cause controversy. On the one hand, there are those who argue that doctors with linguistic knowledge should translate medical documents, while on the other hand, there are those who prefer a translator who specialises in medical texts.

It is true that doctors have much more comprehensive knowledge of the field of medicine than a translator. Even so, we want to emphasise that a professional linguist specialised in the health sciences can translate a clinical paper flawlessly without needing to know how to perform open heart surgery in an operating theatre.

Without a doubt, the right skills are the most important thing to have in order to perform quality medical translations and, in order to have those skills, training is essential.

What factors influence a medical translation?

All medical translators are aware of the complexity of these kinds of texts. This is because there is a need to know the subject in-depth, and medicine is not an easy field to understand at all.

Another important aspect and related to what we mentioned previously is medical terminology. The specialist vocabulary of this field requires the use of glossaries and other resources that help specialists develop an accurate translation of the original text.

In addition, the translator should keep the intended audience of the text in mind. Addressing the medical community is not the same as addressing patients, for example.

Online resources to contrast all types of medical translations

There are a wide range of documents that a translator could be asked to translate. Some of these include clinical trial protocols, medical reports, patient diaries, informed consent forms, product technical sheets, instructions for use or information on toxicology, etc.

As you can see, these are not texts that are simple and feasible for just any person. On the contrary, these documents require very precise knowledge of the subject at hand. For this reason, it is important to have resources that help translate these documents to another language in the best way possible.

Although we do not recommend that an inexperienced person take on this type of translation, we believe it is interesting to add some resources that we consider very useful for consulting medical terminology and contrasting information in medical translations:

  • Termiumplus: a Canadian government terminology database that encompasses various fields, including medicine and health. It includes millions of terms in the four principal languages of the American continent: English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. It is a reliable and high-quality resource, 100% recommended for specialist translations.
  • Cercaterm de Termcat: Cercaterm is a search tool of term records for a multitude of specialised fields (including health sciences, life sciences, veterinary, etc.), produced by Termcat, the Catalan Centre for Terminology. However, it doesn’t just include Catalan and Spanish terms, but also other languages, depending on the term in question.
  • Multilingual Medical Glossary: refers to a glossary produced by the Heymans Pharmacology Institute at the University of Ghent (Belgium). It includes medical terms, both technical and colloquial, in nine European languages. Among them are English and Spanish.
  • Stedman’s Online: a payment tool based on Stedman’s medical dictionary which includes various linguistic information about the medical field. As well as terms, it also has a lot of audiovisual support material (audio and video).
  • Vademecum: the quintessential resource for consulting all kinds of information regarding medicines and their active ingredients. Without a doubt, it is one of the most important resources for medical translators (available in Spanish).
  • Medciclopedia: the illustrated medical dictionary developed for medical professionals and all of those interested in the healthcare industry (available in Spanish).
  • CSIC: a biomedicine database which is very useful when looking for articles, journals, papers, etc. (available in Spanish).

Obviously, there is more information in English than in any other language, which makes it easier to find reference documents for a medical translation from English to Spanish than for a translation from Swahili to Bengali, for example.

Tips for finding the best professional for your medical translation

Finding the right person to translate your medical documents to other languages is not easy. It carries with it a great responsibility, and this is why it is important to contact native translators specialised in the health sciences. As well as that, a good outcome requires fluid communication between client and expert as well as established and respected delivery times.

Furthermore, quality controls must also be applied to the translation. Rigorously revising a medical translation is crucial. In fact, some medical translation agencies offer single-text revisions by different translators. This is a fantastic idea that works as a filter for possible errors. Applying this double revision technique ensures a guarantee and confidence in the final result. Without a doubt, it is one of the best options for effective quality control.

It is also important that translators guarantee the security of data found within medical texts. Given that the majority of the documents contain confidential or sensitive data, no-one should have access to them without the express consent of the client.

Finally, we would like to point out that, due to the demand and responsibility that comes with this kind of work, it is normal for there to be higher rates in comparison to other types of translations. Medicine is a very broad field, and medical translators require a high level of skill to develop their work. In all cases, translation prices should be clearly established in order to avoid later misunderstandings.

In conclusion:

To get the best result for your medical translations, we recommend:

  • Working with professional translators that are native in the target language and specialised in health sciences
  • Conducting quality checks: at least one revision of the translation
  • Guaranteeing the confidentiality of the data (sign a confidentiality agreement with the professional)

Professional medical translation

Professional medical translation: Don’t mess around when it comes to health

Decide on the target language for your document and if, for example, you need an English to Spanish translation, you should look for an English to Spanish medical translator (native Spanish speaker) that can do it.

That being said, it is not all that simple. The professional needs to have experience with translations of this kind. We cannot run the risk of having our project fall into the hands of inexperienced translators that could put people and our reputation at risk. That is why it is best to make sure that the professional can meet our needs and carry out everything mentioned previously.

A medical translation is a very important resource in this increasingly globalised society. There are various options for getting these translations, but small mistakes can ultimately be extremely costly, especially when it comes to health.

Contact a professional and do not take unnecessary risks.

Medical translation services from English into Spanish

At Núria Masdeu Translations we provide medical translation services from our network of English-Spanish certified translators. Contact us to request more information.

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