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Top challenges faced in the world of medical translation

Top challenges faced in the world of medical translation [Photo: iStock/PhotoBylove]
in Healthcare

All translation is vital. As a tool, translation can connect people. It connects businesses with their customers, decision makers with multi-billion pound deals and people with those they need most to get their lives and health back on track. 
 
Of all translation trends, it is probably the latter of these that is simultaneously the most challenging but most important of all to get right. This means when it comes to the task of interpreting and translating medical documents, only the best will do, and only those with the specialist skills and knowledge should be working to make translated medical documentation a reality. 
 
With such a globalised planet, it's vital that translation is seamless in medicine. After all, in any one country, healthcare professionals could be dealing with people from ten to 15 countries in any one day, and there's no guarantee at all that every one of those people will speak the language the doctor does in any sort of fluent way, if at all. 
 
However, doctors and other healthcare professionals have a very important task to carry out, and they need to know that any diagnosis, medicine or advice they hand out is passed on from them to the patient, or indeed another practitioner, seamlessly, so that healthcare is beneficial, not dangerous and sees the patient on their way back to a clean bill of health. 
 
Here, we take a look at just a few key challenges that translators face when it comes to the world of medicine and healthcare translation. 
 
Medical language
 
One of the main challenges that faces any translator in the world of medicine is that it's a very specialised field. And with that comes much in the way of specialist language that not everyone will know. Whether it's the name of a disease, condition or medicine, if a word is specific to the sector and not used outside of it, then the chances are that any translator, no matter how good they are, will not have heard the term before and will struggle to make the documentation usable. 

This is why it's important that those who are employed to translate content are not just proficient in a range of different languages, but that they also have medical experience in the field, and are well aware of all the technical terminology that comes with the sector. If they do, then the chances that they provide useful documents that doctors and nurses can use without putting patients at risk is far higher. 
 
Different specialisms
 
Of course, even the above has challenges. While medical experience can be a very important thing to have for anyone who is working in the translation of such documents, it's sometimes not enough, thanks to the various different sectors that exist within the world of medicine itself. For example, just because someone has experience in the world of haematology, it does not automatically mean that they will know much about oncology or radiology. This can mean that even with medical experience, someone does not know enough about specific specialisms to get the job done as successfully. 
 
For any company offering translation of medical documents as a service, it's therefore very important that they have the ability to call on experts from a range of different medical specialisms to help when it comes to translating medical papers. If they do, they can give customers the peace of mind they need that any document that comes out of the translation process will have been interpreted with the highest level of accuracy, and medical specialist knowledge, possible. 
 
Communication differences
 
Finally, it's important when translating medical documents that the translator always knows what the line of communication is intended to be for the document they happen to be working on. For example, things will be worded very differently if the document is only being passed between doctor and nurse than it would be if it was going from the doctor directly to their patient. Because of the different types of language and confidentiality that needs to be established at this stage, it's vital that the translator always knows what the probable line of communication is going to be. 

This allows them to appropriately tailor any and all communications to the right person at the other side, which includes being able to know how technical the target language should be, how much detail to put in and what kind of language should be used to discuss certain problems that could be occurring with someone's healthcare. 
 
The world of medical translation can be one of the hardest to deal with in the world, but when the right considerations are made and the right choices can be taken from the off, the chances of success increase greatly for everyone involved.



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