What are the difficulties in translating medical documents?

medical translationMedical texts require a special attitude. They must accurately reproduce the content of the original, while also retaining its internal structure and logic. The translation of medical documents must be carried out by professionals. They must be familiar with common terminology in the field and have knowledge of medicine. Translation is not without its challenges. These include the need for knowledge of Latin and the fact that medicine includes several sciences, including genetics, medicine, surgery, etc.

What texts get translated

In order to ensure high-quality translation of documents in this field, you should contact a translation agency working with experienced professionals in the field. The bureau will translate such documents as:

  • diagnostic results and certificates;
  • medical articles and monographs research data;
    instructions to medicines etc.
    All of these texts must meet certain criteria. When it comes to the translation of certificates and findings, confidentiality is one of them. A professional translator may not divulge patient data. They are only used to fill in the document.

Special features of medical translation
The main requirement for such a translation is its accuracy. It must be in the same concise and unemotional style as the original. The meaning of the resultant document should reproduce the meaning of the original in its entirety. This is especially true for instructions related to treatment strategy, dosage of medication etc. From the translator it requires knowledge of biology and pharmacology and a responsible approach, because mistakes and inaccuracies in such a text are unacceptable. Therefore the prepared document is always subjected to additional checking.

Difficulties in medical translation

In this science, there are many terms that come from Latin and Greek. In total, there are several thousand anatomical terms (names of tissues, organs, etc.). And the translation should be guided by the International Nomenclature, approved in 1998. But some authors may use other names in original text, for example, corresponding to Parisian anatomic nomenclature of 1955. It is up to the translator to choose the correct one according to the stylistics of the text and its purpose.

Medical texts use many abbreviations and acronyms. The task of the translator is to decipher and translate them correctly. This is especially true in the case of diagnostic results. Often a word is abbreviated to just one letter, so that the translator has to understand the context. Due to the fact that abbreviations can also come from a time when the language of science was Latin, there is confusion. For example, the abbreviations “every day” and “four times a day” look similar in Latin, and the difference in dosage is significant.

The same applies to units of measurement, as laboratories may have different standards depending on the equipment used. Also, in Russia, for example, haemoglobin is measured in grams per litre, while in other countries it is measured per decilitre. This can lead to confusion. In texts there are many homonyms and so-called “translator’s false friends”, when words with the same description have the opposite meaning. But an experienced translator not only has to find an equivalent for each questionable word from the start, bearing in mind the context, but also subtracts the finished text to avoid mistakes. Another check will be done by the editor.

One response to “What are the difficulties in translating medical documents?”

  1. ATT says:

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