How to produce Accurate Medical Translations

    Danilo Coviello

    Medical and pharmaceutical industry is a highly regulated and sensitive industry as it provides healthcare services to all. This validates the need for efficiency and transparency in the availability of critical healthcare services. Medical translators play an important role in decimating medical information in a language clearly understood by the patients.

    Medical translators need to understand the sophisticated medical language and ensure accurate medical translations. Every medicine or device in the pharmaceutical industry has to go through several trials and researches. The medical translator has to accurately analyse each of these reports/documents and present it to the requester in the desired format.

    Who is a Medical Translator?

    medical translator has to translate different documents having medical information about the patients, medical devices or hospital services. The various documents that a medical translator has to translate include – study protocols, adverse event reports, study agreements, medical study budgets, standard operating procedures, patient information, consent information and contracts of organisations.

    The work of a medical translator is to present every necessary information related to the medical field in a language the patient can understand. These include marketing material, product descriptions, patient information leaflets and summary of products or services.

    The medical translator should have sound knowledge about medical terminology to facilitate faster translation. Accurate medical translations is very important and the medical translator has to be completely responsible while doing his job.

    Market surveys, publication of journals, hospital discharge documents, medical researches, information brochures also need to be translated by medical translators.

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    Difference between medical translator and medical interpreter

    Very often a confusion arises as to the difference between the work of a medical translator and a medical interpreter. Several individuals confuse it to be a single profession but in reality these two, though related to medical field, are completely different professions.

    Both these professions require the services of qualified individuals. However, there is a distinction in the nature of work, each of these professionals need to perform.

    Translators mostly work in the background to translate documents like medical papers, research journals, doctor’s prescriptions and others. Their job is to facilitate accurate medical translations.

    On the other hand, medical interpreters have to work in close synchronisation with the doctors and patients. They help to translate the advice of doctors given to the patients in a language the latter can understand and vice versa. They act as a mediator for effective communication between doctors and patients.

    The work of the interpreters is more challenging in the sense that they need to be on their toes and possess a sharp memory to instantaneously translate the medical instruction of the doctors.

    Requirements for becoming a Medical Translator

    Individuals who aim to become medical translators and avail certification for the same must satisfy the following conditions –

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    1. Must be at least 18 years old.
    2. Must be holding a U.S. high school diploma (or GED) or have an equivalent from another country.
    3. Must be holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher to demonstrate oral proficiency in the English language.
    4. Have linguistic proficiency in at least two languages- the source and target language.
    5. Must enrol and complete a minimum of 40 hours training in medical interpreting.

    There are several institutes that provide training and certification in Medical Translation. They provide training and issue a certificate recognised by the competent authority after successful completion of the exam. You can enrol in any one of them and become a certified medical translator.

    Why become a Certified Medical Translator?

    Medical translation job can be a lucrative career option. The number of people employed in the healthcare industry is projected to jump by 18 percent by the year 2026. The number of new jobs to be added in this industry is expected to be around 2.4 million.

    Healthcare industry is expected to generate more jobs than any other industry. This is because of the increase in demand for healthcare services due to the ageing population. This will place in a strong demand for Certified Medical Translators.

    According to the statistics of U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics the projected job growth for all types of translators and interpreters is 29%. The mean salary that medical translators received in 2015 was $47,210. This is expected to grow due to the increase in demand for experienced translators.

    With the influx of immigrants in North America, medical translation has also become a booming job opportunity. The medical translators need to translate the advice and prescription of doctors into a language the immigrants can understand. This generates strong demand for healthcare translators.

    Adherence to Quality standards

    The nature and field of medical translation makes it a highly regulated activity. Medical translation can have far reaching consequences on delivery of medical services to the patients. For this simple reason, every institution and individual who requires medical translation gives emphasis on strict quality maintenance.

    Some countries have tight regulations that monitor the activities of medical translators. Like most other industries, medical translation is also certified by quality control standards.

    These are –

    ISO 9001 – Quality standards laid out by National Standard Organisation in every country.

    ISO 13485 – International Organisation for Standardisation standard dealing in Medical devices – Quality Management Services

    EN 15038 – Vendor quality translation standards laid down by European Standard.

    Accurate medical translations is imperative and these standards specify the quality measurements that the plans, policies and processes of the companies should adhere to. Every company that seeks medical translation chooses for the services of a translation company that adheres to any one or more of these standards.

    Responsibilities of a Medical Translator

    To provide accurate medical translations, medical translators must give undivided attention to their work. Any discrepancy or error in their translation work can have serious implications. They must thoroughly read the documents and verify the final translated draft before submission.

    Just like doctors and medical staff exercise utmost care and concern towards patients, medical translators should do the same with their work. The professionals in this field must continuously make an aim to improve their understanding and work towards enhancing their delivery mechanism.