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Five types of medical translation that keep people alive

Published on November 12th, 2018

With global industries like the pharmaceutical business, booming travel sectors around the world and more people emigrating than ever, medical translation is a part of our lives – whether we know it or not.

Language barriers within medical fields cost lives and there is a lot of room for mistakes to happen, as the various aspects of healthcare cross between languages. To give you a better idea of just how important this is, here are five types of medical translation that keep people alive.

 

#1: Medical interpreting

One of the most important types of medical translation is interpreting – especially in hospitals where people need to communicate their symptoms to doctors. Imagine a tourist who has got abdominal pains and they need to explain where they are experiencing problems or explain the kind of medication they are currently taking.

We have seen the horrific results of poor interpretation in these scenarios before and it is not something that should be repeated.

The other side of this is doctors being able to communicate with patients: explaining diagnoses, a patient’s next steps, instructions for taking medication, etc.

 

#2: Technical translation

Something patients never or rarely see is the research that goes into every form of healthcare they receive. Studies, papers, clinical trials, experimental treatments and all kinds of other types of research.

The goal is to save more lives by constantly improving the quality of services, procedures and products. A key part of this is translating new findings so that patients around the world can all benefit from the same breakthroughs. This requires more than your typical language expert and you need translators with enough medical and technical knowledge to guarantee 100% accuracy.

 

#3: Document translation

This may not be the most exciting form of medical translation but it is still one of the most important. It is difficult to do much of anything in healthcare without all the correct documentation in place.

There is also documentation for outbreaks such as Ebola required at airports and pamphlets for typical travel-related illnesses such as malaria and typhoid needed for clinics in popular tourist spots. The list is endless and, as soon as there is a language shift, all of this documentation needs translating.

 

#4: Label and device translation

In health industries, labels and packaging for things like medication and other items must always be 100% accurate. One step wrong here can result in all kinds of lawsuits that nobody wants to get involved in and medical translation mistakes cannot be tolerated.

The same thing goes for the wide range of devices used by doctors and surgeons alike. Any warning labels need to be perfectly translated, as well as user manuals and any other documentation designed to prevent misuse.

 

#5: Training and learning material translation

It takes medical professionals a long time to train and they never really stop learning throughout their career. All of their studies and additional training requires a lot of educational material and (you guessed it) this all needs translating for medical students around the world.

Depending on their specific field, it is not only the medical side of things that needs to be learned either. For example, doctors need to complete a certain amount of conduct training, learn how to break bad news to patients and families and their legal obligations in various scenarios.

 

Language barriers should never get in the way of saving lives or helping people deal with health issues. Across the medical and healthcare industry, translation is a fundamental part of helping professionals, patients and customers get the best possible treatment. Whether it is translating innovative findings for the world to learn from or simply interpreting a conversation between doctor and patient.

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Posted on: November 12th, 2018