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5 Essentials to Consider When Translating Medical Documents

Published on December 1st, 2023

translating medical documents

Medical document translation is a highly specialised language service with some of the strictest requirements. Given the gravity of its potential impact on human lives, organisations and professionals, there is zero tolerance for translation mistakes. Achieving consistent, quality results with every document requires careful planning and execution from start to finish. Here are five essentials you should consider before translating any medical documentation.

1. Choosing the right language experts

The first thing you need to do for any medical translation project is partner with the right language experts. Hopefully, it goes without saying that you need to work with specialist medical translators, but you should look into the specific skills and experience of any translation agencies and linguists.

Medical document translation and medical interpreting both fall within the broad spectrum of medical translation, but they require very different skill sets.

Even within medical document translation itself, you could be dealing with: clinical and hospital documents, pharmaceutical documents, academic and research papers, medical device documentation, medical marketing assets and a wide variety of other documentation types – all of which require different expertise.

It’s therefore of paramount importance to partner with medical translators who have proven experience in handling the kind of documentation you’re dealing with as well as the Life Sciences you specialise in. Linguists should also have extensive knowledge of the same medical field, as well as the regulatory requirements in your target regions.

2. Building a robust medical translation process

Partnering with the right language specialists brings, first and foremost, the knowledge and expertise needed to your medical projects, but you still need a robust translation process to deliver efficient results. This requires a well-coordinated team of medical translators, quality assessors, project management tools, translation technology and – depending on the nature of your project – a variety of other tools.

Generally speaking, this is one of the major advantages of working with a translation agency over independent translators. Language service providers that specialise in medical document translation will have everything you need to help implement a translation process that meets your needs. At translate plus, for example, aside from connecting you with the right linguists, we can help you implement a translation system that delivers translated medical content as quickly and cost-effectively as possible without the constant meetings and back-and-forth e-mails.

3. Medical translation quality assurance (QA)

Quality assurance is a fundamental part of any translation project but it’s particularly important when handling any documentation that could affect quality of life. Needless to say, medical documents are probably up there with the most impactful types of content.

Quality medical translation saves lives but the consequences of any imperfections can be disastrous. Obviously, the lives and quality of life for individuals matter most, but the legal financial implications for organisations are also significant.

Every medical translation project should include an extensive quality assurance system to consistently provide the highest level of accuracy.

4. Laws & regulations for medical translation

The laws and regulations for medical translation vary across regions and the type of translation you’re providing (document translation, interpreting, marketing translation, etc.). Again, even within medical document translations, regulations will vary depending on the type of documentation that’s being handled.

Compliance needs to be ensured across the board and this starts with knowing the relevant regulatory body in each target region. In some cases, you might need to work with legal experts to guarantee compliance, particularly when targeting a region with complex regulations.

As stated earlier, partnering with the right language experts who have experience handling the same type of documentation and adhering to regulations in each target region, will significantly help tackle these matters. Next, seek out any legal advice where required and draw up a clear set of requirements for each project stage.

5. Data security, privacy & confidentiality

When handling any patient data in translation projects, you’ll also need to pay close attention to regulations regarding data security, privacy and confidentiality. Even if you’re not handling patient data, you’ll still have to comply with privacy regulations in any instance where content is used to collect and handle user data, such as online medical marketing material.

Again, regulations vary across regions and also depend on the type of documentation you’re handling. For example, in the UK and the EU, you have to comply with GDPR guidelines for any collection, processing and transfer of personal data. This includes people’s personal details and medical records; although, the UK’s obligations to GDPR guidelines could change now that the country is outside of the EU.

Translating medical documents with expert care

If you need help planning your next medical translation product, our team has the expertise and experience you need across different medical fields – from pharma, biotech and medical device companies to working with healthcare providers, CROs and CTOs.

Please fill out the form on our contact page to discuss your next medical project and one of our medical translation experts will get back you.

Posted on: December 1st, 2023