While accurate translation is essential for success in any industry, the stakes are higher for companies needing medical translation service. A small error in translation can result in serious harm to end users, not to mention liability and substantial losses for your company.

Medical translation is a unique, specialized field where certification is just one of several important factors that determine clear, concise, and accurate translation. Not only must a translator be a native speaker of the target language, but he or she must also have subject matter expertise in the specific medical field needing translation.

Read on to learn about key qualifications you should look for in a translation services company to ensure your medical translations convey the accurate and appropriate message.

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Does the Medical Translation Service Employ Native Speakers?

The first step is finding a company that utilizes native speakers for every language. Only a native speaker of the target language understands cultural and idiomatic differences that a non-native translator may overlook or not be aware of. And, of course, the translator must also be fluent in the source language in order to fully comprehend your intended message.

Failure to consider this can have serious ramifications, as mistranslation can lead to patients receiving the wrong treatment and end-users of equipment becoming seriously injured by incorrect technical translations.

Complicating matters further, medical terminology in the English language often has origins elsewhere, which makes accurate translation into your target language even more challenging.

A native-speaking professional translator will readily understand and correctly translate any metaphors or idioms directed at the target audience, as many medical terms have synonyms that can be selected depending on context, audience, and culture.

Does the Translator Providing Medical Translation Service Have Subject Matter Expertise?

It is vitally important that any medical translation be done by a translator who also has vast experience in health care. That’s because the medical field contains specific terminology that only a subject matter expert can understand and accurately convey in another language.

If medical device documentation or other documents are translated by someone without subject matter expertise, that person may not fully grasp the intended meaning of your content. The resulting translation may be missing medical nomenclature like signs, symbols, abbreviations, and terminology specific to the medical field.

While these may seem insignificant, they’re actually far from it. In the medical industry, with patient health and safety on the line, errors have magnified consequences. Placing a decimal point in the wrong spot can result in a dosage much higher or lower than was intended by a physician, for example. That’s why it’s vitally important to rely on a translator who fully understands the content he or she is translating.

Does the Medical Translation Service Provide High-quality Professional Translation?

Accurate, concise translation goes beyond word-for-word translation. It involves understanding sentence structure, grammar, and syntax. It also includes context, message, and overall meaning.

This is especially important for patients who must follow clear treatment guidelines. Failure to comply with recommended use instructions because of inaccurate translation in either written or spoken language can potentially result in life-threatening situations.

None of these translation mistakes have malicious intent. They occur when a professional translator isn’t employed and managed using a defined quality control process.

The medical field is required to abide by strict quality controls, and medical translation services should be no different. Only qualified translators with subject matter expertise can ensure medical documents are free of errors and discrepancies, while remaining clear and easy to understand for the intended market.


The Manufacturers Guide to Technical Translation

Learn all you need to know about technical document translation, key questions to ask, and critical pitfalls to avoid.