Medical translation

Medical translation requires expertise, accuracy, confidentiality and regulatory compliance. It’s one of the most demanding types of translation specialisations and consists of various different areas and subfields: pharmaceutical, medical devices, clinical research, regulatory documents, veterinary science and more. 

What is it that makes medical texts difficult to translate?

First of all, you need to have a deep understanding of medical terminology. If you don’t understand what you’re reading, then you quite simply won’t be able to translate it accurately. Take the following sentence, for example:

XXX is an orally active peptidomimetic inhibitor of the HIV-1 and HIV-2 aspartyl proteases.

It may seem short and sweet at first glance, but understanding exactly what it means is no easy task, if you’re not a trained medical professional. You might be able to decipher the meaning with the help of specialised glossaries and dictionaries, but it will be hard for you to get the whole picture.

When it comes to medical translation, it is extremely important that your translator understands what every last word and phrase is trying to communicate. Otherwise, you run the risk of omitting important information or producing unclear translations. The result of this might then be that the physicians reading your texts are unable to understand the effects of a medical product they are prescribing, or that a surgeon is unsure as to how a particular instrument should be safely used.

It is also highly important that medical translations meet certain regulatory requirements: there are official templates for translating Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) texts and Patient Information Leaflets (PIL), and many countries have also adopted recommendations for Informed Consent Forms (ICF) used in clinical trials. In addition, medical translators need to be familiar with Standard Terms and International Nonproprietary Names (INN). This guarantees that consistent medical terminology is used when referring to certain medical products and substances and ensures that the resulting texts are consistent, clear and easy to use.

What kinds of texts are typically handled in medical translation?

Many different texts fall under the umbrella of medical translation. For example, there are Package Inserts and Labels, which include SmPCs and PILs and which have to comply with regulatory requirements. Other documents include Case Report Forms (CRF), Clinical Protocols, Patient Recruitment Materials, Investigator Brochures and ICFs, which are all related to clinical research – a distinct sub-field with its own specific conventions. Then there are Instructions for Use (IFU) and Software, Hardware and Production Manuals which fall under the category of medical devices, and a whole range of other text types from Medical Records through to Regulatory Documents.

Medical translation clients – who are you?

It doesn’t matter who you are – our medical translation team can guarantee high-quality translations for all types of clients, from pharmaceutical companies through to manufacturers of medical and surgical devices, biotechnology companies and clinical research organisations (CROs). Remember, when it comes to medical translation, the small details matter and both precision and accuracy are absolutely essential.