The number of professional fields that require accurate, and complex translation is almost endless, but there is one field that stands out where translation is incredibly important and that is the field of medicine. The process of translating medical documents can literally be a life or death practice, with mistakes having potentially catastrophic and fatal consequences. The practice of medical translation is very wide reaching, with a variety of different needs and requirements which will be analysed further in this article.

The Process of Medical Translation

There are a variety of different documents that will require translation, ranging from data sheets and technical documents, right through to marketing and training materials. Due to the sensitive nature of medicine the majority of countries across the globe will require by law that providers of pharmaceuticals translate any documentation and labels into the required language.

As the process of medical translation is so important it is very rare that just one person will be responsible, this is a field in which multiple people will be involved in each translation to ensure there are absolutely no errors and to minimise risk as much as possible. The depth and complexity of these highly technical translations mean the translators will need medical knowledge and will have to undertake training to ensure their subject knowledge is very high. Furthermore, the medical industry is very highly regulated meaning the translators will generally need to be certified or will need to be compliant with medical standards such as ISO 13485 – which relates to providing medical equipment and services – and EN 15038 – which is the European standard for translation services and provides quality assurance and traceability. Very often it is doctors or nurses who are proficient in more than one language that are employed for medical translations, as they will fully understand the content of the work they are translating, and will be able to get this delicate information translated with complete accuracy, or if they do not do the original translation work then they may be included on a consultancy basis to proof read and validate the work.

Academic Fields

Academia is another area in which translation is very important, especially in higher education. Outputs such as academic journals, articles, dissertations, research and books are all areas that academics frequently look to get translated for publication. Many translation companies focus on academic translation and will provide translators who specialise in the subject field of the source text, to ensure they understand the work they are translating to maintain the quality of the piece. This is an incredibly important role as the publishing of the aforementioned pieces of text in multiple languages is very prestigious for the original writer and they would be held in high regard within their community. It is for this reason that the translation of the texts must be done very accurately, which links back to the earlier mention of medical translations – if these pieces are medical journals or research papers, then the translations must be 100% accurate as they will be used to educate future medical practitioners.