We live in an increasingly multicultural world, and it is not rare to run into people from different races, religions, as well as ethnic and linguistic backgrounds on a simple trip to the store or down the road in most American cities. The same is true for those in the healthcare field. Doctors, nurses, receptionists, and other healthcare experts are often required to interact and serve those with a different native language.
Translations in a healthcare setting ensure that these interactions are productive, positive and result in the patient getting the care they need. This article will go over the basics of medical translations and why they are more essential than ever in today's healthcare industry.
What is Medical Translation?
A medical translation is like any other form of translation, besides the obvious fact that a medical translation takes place in a healthcare setting or relates to one's general healthcare needs. These needs can fall under healthcare, pharmaceutics, psychiatry, medical jurisprudence, even hospital administration.
Medical translation is any translation that requires knowledge of the healthcare industry. Medical translators often have years of experience training working in a healthcare field in one capacity or another.
It is not rare to find medical bodies utilizing the services of medical translators to translate patient records, prescriptions, pharma labels, instructions, and much more.
Three Reasons Why Having a Medical Translator is Essential in the Healthcare Industry
1. Localization is Necessary for Safe Results
Translation is more than simply replacing a word from one language into another, as many languages do not directly translate in a one-to-one fashion. Grammar and sentence structures can be pretty different between languages, and many of the words or phrases we use to describe things have a cultural basis.
Localization refers to addressing the cultural and social conventions of a population to convey the intended message accurately.
Languages are loaded with cultural terms and expressions that can be difficult to translate because they directly reflect a world view of a society, its beliefs, emotions, and values. Even describing the concept of a clearing or open plain can be difficult between cultures. For example, in some South American dialects, describing a clearing or empty field was almost only used in reference to the cultivation of maize. Meanwhile, in Mongolia, the references to open land and clearings are used in a much different cultural and religious context. Trying to translate a conversation between these two languages on a topic like "open land" would require a very skilled language expert.
The word "Bandwagon" is another excellent example of a cultural phrase that can be hard to describe elsewhere. The word was originally created by the P.T. Barnum Circus to describe a wagon literally carrying a band. This term was then changed by President Teddy Roosevelt when he referred to the vehicles of an election campaign party. Nowadays, the word refers to the act of jumping on a current trend. With a unique cultural history and meaning, these words often don't have direct equivalents in other languages, and the translator will have to decide how to best represent the original meaning in the new language.
In a medical context, you have to ensure a medical translator can correctly translate the meaning of a word, no matter the cultural context, as even little mistakes can result in disaster (which leads us right into our next point…).
Medical Field Eponyms
A lot of the terminology in the medical field is made up of eponyms such as Parkinson's disease or Lou Gehrig disease. These are names derived from the names of people, anatomy, tools, etc. The tricky part is that these same terms may also be eponymous in another language, or the counterpart may be in Latin or a descriptive term. Some words also have multiple names, like Cowper's glands, which can also be called bulbourethral glands.
It takes specialized medical translators to be able to handle this level of complexity without making mistakes that can lead to severe issues.
2. Even Simple Mistakes Can Have Serious Consequences
Even minor misunderstandings in a medical scenario can have serious consequences. There are countless sad stories of improper medical care being received due to poor translations or language-based misunderstandings. You have to be incredibly accurate when someone's health is on the line, and without the aid of a professional translator, you risk causing serious harm.
There was a research paper titled "The impact of abbreviations on patient safety" published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, and in that paper, they gave an example where a falsely translated instruction manual resulted in 47 wrongly implanted prosthetics at a hospital in Berlin. This shows how even the slightest slip-up can have long-ranging and severe consequences.
When people's health is on the line, you cannot afford even the smallest mistakes.
3. High-Quality Translations Help Your Bottom Line
While safety will always be the main concern in a medical scenario, translations can also help improve the overall quality and range of a practice’s services, as well as help them better serve communities in their area. Many independent local practitioners have found that partnering with a medical translation service allows them to interact with much larger segments of the population.
Mistakes can also be costly. A pharmaceutical company, hospital, or small family practice all need to put out documents and materials on a regular basis. Ensuring you get your translations correct the first time can help save you both time and money needing to correct and improve documents.
Are You in Need of High-Quality Medical Translations?
At The Spanish Group, we understand that medical translations need to be effective for all parties involved and that a failure to do so can be incredibly harmful to both the patient and the practice. This is why we hire only medical translators with years of proven experience in their field and an outstanding track record. We typically only work with the top 1% of translators working today!
Our language experts are capable of assisting you with:
- Clinical Trials
- Medical Reports
- Drug Registration Documents
- Instructions for Medical Equipment
- Journals/White Papers
- Toxicology and Pharmacological Reports
- And much more!
Contact us today, and our friendly and helpful staff will help to get you started with a professional medical translator team right away!