What Makes Translating a Medical Document More Difficult Than Others?

Medical Document Translations, Medical Translation Services

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It isn’t hard to see why medical translation requires a level of precision and accuracy that is unmatched in any other area. When a patient’s health and safety are on the line, you don’t want to accept anything less than 100%. Where language and healthcare intersect, there can be no responsible compromise.

Whether translating pharmaceutical drug inserts or packaging materials, medical device instructions, or IRB research report forms, your process requires a translation team with up-to-date technical knowledge. It also requires strict quality assurance and a fundamental understanding of regulations. For these reasons, our vetted, professional translators are all experts in their medical fields and therapeutic areas.

Why It Matters

We all know how important it is to insist on accuracy in medical translation, but does accuracy really require medical expertise? Couldn’t you expect the same level of quality from a generalist?

Well, to answer this question, let’s consider an example. Could you paraphrase the following paragraph?

Ligamentoplasty is an alternative technique to posterior arthrodesis. Ligamentoplasty devices can be classified into two groups: pedicle screw-based devices and interspinous ligamentoplasty implants. The interspinous implant is comprised of a silicone core wrapped into a polyester sheath connected to artificial ligaments of the same material. The Device for Intervertebral Assisted Motion (DIAM) is an interspinous stabilizer designed to assist the degenerated segment in both flexion and extension through its novel dynamic ability to stretch and compress in synchronization with the normal movement of the functional spinal unit.

Without the proper medical background, you couldn’t make much sense of it. And an accurate translation is essentially high quality paraphrasing.

The example above is borrowed from instructions for a surgeon about placement of a medical implant in the spine. Would you want your surgeon following instructions translated by a translator without medical expertise? It’s probably clear by now that the language specialist translating a text like this must understand medical terminology in order to communicate at a professional level. This is why we work so hard to find a translator with the appropriate subject matter expertise to match your project’s needs.

Different Registers

In addition to understanding medical jargon and being able to accurately paraphrase medical texts, medical translation is more difficult than other types of translations because it often involves multiple registers. For instance, the term used in medical parlance for a particular disease (e.g., “conjunctivitis”) will be different from the term used in more colloquial communications (e.g., “pink eye”).

To add to the complexity, the medical language register in European languages contains different words being applied to the same condition depending on whether the perspective is anatomical, clinical, or pathological. Some types of bacterial infections such as brucellosis have as many as 25 (linguistic) synonyms in English and 6-12 in other European languages.

This wouldn’t add too much to the level of difficulty if not for the variety among different languages. While some languages have only one word for both registers, other languages have two or more words. When translating a single medical term from the source language into a target language with two or more options, context must be taken into account.

So medical translation is especially difficult because translators need to know so much more than two different languages. A professional translator in this area needs to know how the body works, how diseases evolve, etc. While the same is partly true for other technical fields, engineering, for example, the difference is that an engineering translator can use lower register terminology for machine parts and systems across the board. The only difference between an engineering text written for an engineer and one written for a layperson is that the second one would contain fewer details.

Global Life Sciences Clients Depend on DTS

Pharmaceutical companies, medical and surgical device manufacturers, clinical research organizations (CROs), patient recruitment companies, and healthcare providers have come to rely on DTS Language Services, Inc. for translation of their most sensitive medical documents. Our unique process allows us to deliver consistent, precise, and on-time results that our clients depend on.

We perform medical translation, biotechnology translation, pharmaceutical translation and clinical translation services for many Life Sciences clients, including:

  • Pharmaceutical Companies
  • Biotechnology Organizations
  • Medical Device Manufacturers
  • Medical Device Companies
  • Patient Recruitment Companies
  • CRO companies (Contract Research Organizations)
  • Clinical Research Companies
  • Clinical Trial Companies
  • Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)
  • Hospitals and Healthcare Providers
  • Clinical Trial Organizations

Types of Medical Documents We Translate

Because medical documents must comply with FDA regulations in the U.S. and other regulatory agencies around the world, you need a language service partner who understand what’s required and that can cover a variety of documents. We’ve listed the most commonly requested types of medical documents below. We are always looking to serve your needs by expanding our offerings as well.

Certified Medical and Pharmaceutical Documents:

  • Case Report Forms
  • Training documentation
  • Clinical study protocols
  • Synopses
  • Informed consent forms
  • Patents and patent applications
  • CMC documentation
  • QOLs and other PROs
  • Packaging and labeling
  • Investigator brochures
  • Instructions-for-use inserts

Technical Documents:

  • Owner’s manuals
  • User guides
  • Material safety data sheets
  • Specs sheets

Medical and Clinical Documents:

  • Informed consent forms (ICF)
  • HIPAA authorization forms
  • HIPAA compliance forms
  • Protocol documents
  • Case report forms (CRF)
  • HIPAA privacy authorization forms
  • HIPAA release of information forms
  • Patient diaries
  • Drug labels
  • Patient satisfaction surveys
  • Other Pharmaceutical translations
  • HIPAA disclosure forms
  • HIPAA medical release forms

Foreign Languages We Translate for Life Science Companies

DTS provides language services in over 75 global languages. With increasing globalization, especially in clinical research, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries, the demand for high quality medical translations continues to grow. Although most of our work involves translating between English and major European languages, including Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese, we have contacts in nearly every country around the world.

If you need service in a language that is not listed, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss additional resources.

DTS Listens

At DTS, we believe: “Competent medical translation may save the day, but correct medical translation saves lives.” We take seriously our responsibility in delivering results that our clients and their customers can trust. It is our privilege to do this work for you.

We appreciate that you have choices when it comes to translation and language service providers. That’s why we work to consistently deliver high-quality, accurate, and on-time translations. If you want worry-free language services, you can’t go wrong choosing DTS.

Please call us at 800-524-0722 or 919-582-0330 or request a free medical document translation quote by filling out this quick form. Find out how DTS Language Translations, Inc. can help you meet your translation needs.