The following are the most frequently asked questions about medical translation and our own attempt at providing the answers to these questions:
Who does the medical translation?
Translation agencies that specialize in medical translation have their own team of qualified translators, specifically doctors, nurses, medical technologists, and pharmacists who have expert knowledge of the languages they are working on. The most frequently translated languages in the medical field are: German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Swedish, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. Because this is a more specific and technical type of translation, medical translation is always done under the guidance of an expert supervisor and always includes references.
What is it done for?
Hospitals, pharmacies, and medical advertising agencies require medical translation services, especially those that are expanding into the medical tourism industry. Manufacturers of medical equipment are also now required by national governments to translate their packaging, labels, and how-to manuals into the language of the foreign country they are catering to. Also, in international medical conferences, which are attended by experts in various medical disciplines from all over the world, scientific papers have to be translated into different languages to allow every participant to understand the research in his own native language.
What medical documents are usually translated?
All sorts of scientific documents are processed by medical translation agencies. This does not only include packaging, labels, instruction books, but also a wide range of documents such as medical brochures, user guides for medical staff, instruction manuals for patients, patient reports, clinical studies, medical charts, drug prescriptions, medical multimedia applications, medical questionnaires, psychology papers, hospital discharge summaries, insurance claims, research protocols, general medical documents, and other documents containing medical terminologies.
What is the process of medical translation?
A translation agency oversees the process of translating a medical document, usually dividing the process into different steps that are taken care of by different individuals. These steps consist of the following:
Extraction. Reading or listening to and understanding the text as it is initially recorded.
Translation. Interpreting the text in its source language and rewriting it in the target language.
Editing. Extracting and translating the original text by another person. This is done to get a second (or even third or fourth) opinion on the meaning of the text and to make sure that quality is at its best.
Publishing. Recording the text in its original format (i.e. text document, Web page, e-learning software, etc.)
Proofreading. Checking the medical translation for discrepancies in formatting.
Native Review. Evaluation of the translated material by a medical expert who speaks and understands the target language.
How is quality ensured?
Research is an important component of medical translation. This does not only consist of medical research, but also an intensive looking into the grammar and vocabulary of the target language. This is often the most challenging portion of translating medical documents. The initial draft, which is usually kept confidential until an expert ensures its quality, is then evaluated and improved by other translators before it is again placed under the scrutiny of an expert supervisor followed by a medical expert who is also a native speaker of the target language.