All clinical documents bear a certain risk of being misread or misunderstood, either due to errors or inconsistencies, or simply poor written structure. Patient information retention results, so critical a driver in clinical trials and other life science disciplines, may be poor.  The same risks apply to clinical translation work. However, in a foreign language, typically the translation buyer is neither qualified nor capable of assessing quality.

This raises a conundrum. Like all forms of communication, clinical translation is successful when there is clarity with respect to roles, reporting structures and expectations. These form the yardstick of measuring what work was done, what message was communicated, and how we as a team got from Point A to Point B. While some medical document translation services enable that outcome, many do not. Inexperienced or unqualified translators may be largely at the root of the problem (especially when translation buying decisions are made primarily on the basis of low cost). However, just as likely is the culprit of faulty communication. Effective communication starts with everyone on board working together: Sponsor, CRO, IRB, sites, and the medical translation agency. It is vital to make the time to ensure a translation is set up for success and not doomed for failure before a single word is ever translated.

At DTS, we believe that medical translation is a form of communication like any other. How do you view a successful translation outcome? Is it just receiving the final deliverables on time, moving on, and consider news to be good news? Everyone has to be on the same page about process. Here’s ours:


Do you remember a time you had to reschedule your promised deliverables multiple times due to poor pre-planning? Embarrassment, dread, anger and finger-pointing invariably ensues, as well as potential reputation damage or lost client relationships. Not to mention the costs of lost time and wasted budget. Over the years, we’ve found that the best way to avoid wasting valuable time and resources is to simply get it right the first time.

This is why we put careful attention into setting up each translation project we accept, and do it with an incredibly efficient system of specialized team members. Working with clients as a team, we plan the details, coordinate the role assignments (project managers, translators, editors, graphic designers, QA validators), the timelines required for each role to fulfill their specific deliverables, and hurdles we may need to address along the way.

By ironing out the details and custom-building an approach each client is comfortable with before we start, we’re able to avoid the misunderstandings and pitfalls that can very easily arise when working in multiple languages. Whether it is a simple ICF Spanish translation, or a global study involving dozens of countries, we use the same basic pilot checklists and invest time up front to ensure that you and your stakeholders will be satisfied the first time.

Translation Process:

In our translation phase, using proprietary tools and procedures, our native translation and editing teams work together in real-time with redundant systems in place to protect against the risk of missed deadlines. This is how we consistently maintain an over-95% on-time delivery rate of translations for clinical studies, year after year. Our translators typically have ten or more years of experience with specialized life science training, education or career experience in the field. Does this cost more up front for this level of specialization? Yes. Does it cost less than attempting to fix poor medical translations, of making 3-4 re-deliveries, or of confronting the consequences of patient harm or fatality due to mistranslation? Yes. Infinitely less.

Editing Process:

In our editing phase, our medical translation editors review all the text in the project. Our technological system even enables them to work with translators in real-time, sometimes just a few sentences behind the translator. Our editors go beyond merely confirming grammatical correctness, and are trained to make sure that the meaning presented in the translation matches the original intention of your source language text.  The curse of subject matter expertise is also worth noting here: Our clinical translation work strives to minimize unnecessary content interpretation. After all, it’s a slippery slope when a Czech translator makes “improvements” to approved content, thinking “only I know best”..  Perhaps the CRO blindly releases this in good faith and under the gun of time pressure, with no idea that the content has been changed. Whether the content has actually been improved or not lies beside the point that IRB-approved documents have been altered. This ticking time bomb can be simply be avoided with proactive, clear communication up front.


Once our medical translation staff are fully satisfied with the text itself, it is sent to our document layout teams. This process includes ensuring that we have matched the overall design vision for your medical translation project with the changes in length that accompany translations and any other design elements that need to be incorporated.

Our teams prepare a mock-up, which is carefully proofed to ensure that content has not been lost in the initial process, and to do a final review of the language and presentation to make sure that it is delivery-ready and on schedule. After this phase the notarized Translation Certification statement is executed, which is part of the deliverables and contains internal reference touch points (version number/date, protocol study number, sponsor/CRO/PI, or other reference information that you may desire).

We also record our translations into our proprietary server database for backup and for future reference, which vastly streamlines the version control of your future updated documents.


At DTS we embrace the concept of kaizen: Continuous improvement in an on-going effort to improve the final product–in this case a successful and on-time medical translation.  That’s why our services don’t stop when your documents are delivered to you. Before we consider a project truly finished, we maintain open lines of communication with you to make sure that the translation was a successful experience for you,

Did we integrate into your systems and processes? Were we a seamless resource working well for you and your team? Did we help you meet or exceed your boss’s or client’s expectations? What could we have done better?

If a work environment practices kaizen, continuous improvement is the responsibility of everyone on the team, not just a select few. Documenting areas of possible improvement helps maintain our status of trust with you as your medical translation partner. Better still, this also makes the pre-planning process of your future projects even stronger!

All of these aspects of our work combined to minimize risk of translation problems for you and your clients. Contact us today about your medical document translation needs. We promise we will walk you through the process, be transparent about every step, and work with you to achieve the translation success and personalized service you deserve.

10 Tips For Your Next Translation Project (Video)

10 Tips For Your Next Translation Project (Video)

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