Translation is a multifaceted industry. While some translation companies may focus exclusively on generating localised marketing copy for an international corporation, others concentrate on providing translation services to companies operating within the healthcare and life sciences industry. Some agencies juggle multiple specialisations to assist businesses with all their translation, localisation, or globalisation needs. When it comes to offering medical translation services, an agency works with records and studies that relate to the healthcare system. The role of a translation company catering clients within medical and healthcare space is to ensure that they receive highest quality translations with thorough quality control. Here’s everything you need to know about medical translation services and the quality control around the process.

What is Medical Translation?

Medical or healthcare translation is a process that converts healthcare documents from one language into another. In many cases, these services provide certified and notarised work recognized by health officials, organizations, and other authorities to be accurate and true. Unlike interpreters who help patients speak with doctors and other medical personnel, medical translators stick to the written word. The process of medical translation begins with a project manager reviewing the source files to gather completion information about the subject matter of the documents. Once the subject matter has been determined, the role of a project manager is to assign a translator who is native speaker of the target language and has experience translating documents of the same subject matter. This is to ensure that the medical translator is well-versed in that subject matter and can apply correct medical terminologies in the target language. Upon completion of the translation, it goes through two independent proofreaders as a part of overall quality control check to ensure that the translation is thoroughly checked.

Types of Documents Needing Translation

The healthcare industry represents a wide variety of professionals specialising in particular fields — from general practitioners who diagnose and treat illnesses to equipment manufacturers who produce assistive devices for people with reduced mobility. With this kind of variety in the industry, a medical translation service may assist on a broad selection of projects. 

Here is a small sample of the types of translation projects a certified medical translator usually works on: 

  • Patient Records
  • Technical Data Sheets
  • Clinical Trials
  • Patient Guides
  • Brochures
  • Lectures
  • Intake Forms
  • Maintenance Manuals
  • Drug Approvals
  • Health and Safety Guides 
  • Lab Results
  • Consent and Assent Forms

Quality Assurance in medical translation

A Basic Profile of the Typical Medical Translator

While every professional brings their unique history and perspective to a job, every medical translator shares some things in common. Here’s what you can expect in a profile of a professional medical translator. 

A Native Speaker’s Understanding of the Target Language:

Native speakers have an understanding of their language that goes beyond fluency. In many cases, it means they first learnt to speak using this language, and they still live in a country where they speak it as the nation’s official language.  Professional medical translation agencies retain freelancers from all over the world, so they can deploy linguists who are native speakers of your target language and residents of the country where your document originates. 

Expert Knowledge of the Healthcare Industry

Medical translators are professionals who have experience translating variety of documents related to healthcare industry. This experience helps them parse through complicated medical terminology to recreate it faithfully in their target language. Any medical translation service worth its salt fills its roster of translators with professionals who have several years of industry experience. These professionals frequently undergo routine testing to ensure they make the correct choices when translating important documents. Only experienced medical translators with extensive experience can produce accurate work that adheres to the stringent rules set by the industry.

Unerring Attention to Detail

Mistranslations can lead to misinterpreting a diagnosis or course of treatment, which puts people’s lives in danger — not to mention how it could get the healthcare practitioner in hot water if they’re found at fault.  Medical translators understand the importance of getting the wording right, so they take care to create accurate translations that follow formatting standards. 

Who is responsible for quality control in medical translations 

A professional medical translation agency has overall responsibility for quality control when providing medical translation services. This is mainly because healthcare and life science related organisations put their trust in professional translation service providers to deliver highest quality translations at all times. It’s their sole responsibility to have a solid structure in place from assigning right medical translator, editor, proof-reader and a quality control procedure to ensure that there is no room for any sort of error in the translation. 


How can we improve the quality control of our medical translation services

Organisations spend vast amount of time and resources to improve their standards and quality control measures in delivering high standard deliverables to their clients. Within translation industry, the same rule applies as medical translators have to deliver accurate translations at any given time. The most essential element to maintain and improve quality standard of our medical translations is by rigorously training and testing our medical translators on various domains that they specialise in. Regular training can help increase their knowledge which can be reflected in their overall performance. 

The Takeaway

Patient guides, equipment manuals, clinical trials: these highly technical documents contain information that profoundly affects the public’s health and safety. With these risks at stake, you need an experienced medical translation company to ensure nothing gets lost in translation. If you need any assistance in translating your medical documents, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.