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März 27, 2018 |

How Medical Translation Is an Essential Tool in Modern Medicine

Medical translation requires accuracy, but there are few domains where precision is so important as in medicine. A changed or missing word in a doctor’s notes can have negative effects on the quality of the medical act, putting patients’ lives at risk, to give just one example.

But there’s a lot more in this industry that counts on medical translation and interpreting services to reach maximum potential. In a global world, both the pharma industry and health services providers need to adapt to international audiences.

From translating medicine labels to giving free language access to medical care for people traveling and living outside national borders, translation is an essential tool in modern medicine.

Language Access Is Essential to Health Care

Patients have the right to receive understandable explanations from their doctors, no matter what language they speak. With more people living as expats, giving language access to all patients is a difficult job for clinics and hospitals. Bilingual relatives or staff members can’t guarantee an accurate medical translation. As a matter of fact, they can create confusion that can lead to missed diagnostics.

That’s why professional interpreters and translators have become important players in the health services industry. In the US, 8 percent of the population is considered Limited English Proficient (LEP). For these people who speak poor English, communication is a barrier between them and health care providers. A barrier that causes misunderstandings and physical harm to patients.

Moreover, a Canadian study has revealed that the language barrier is associated with fewer resources for health education. Patients who aren’t confident in English are less likely to receive preventive care, rarely participate in cancer screening, and benefit from less mental health services.

In this context, having a professional interpreter to count on is an essential part of the medical act. Interpreters in hospitals allow specialists to obtain a complete medical history of the patient and learn all the details about any possible symptom. Furthermore, the patients understand their medical conditions and are able to follow the treatment plan correctly.

Besides providing interpreters for non-English speaking patients, hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare providers should have a series of translated documents available for LEPs. Among these documents and materials, the most important are:

  • Signage
  • Notices that express the eligibility criteria for patients
  • Information forms/ Consent documents
  • Notices of free language assistance
  • Discharge instructions
  • Clinical trial documents

These documents give patients access to important information that can help them make the best decisions for their health.

Pharma Industry Needs Medical Translation for Consistent Growth

Modern medicine goes hand in hand with technology and innovation. New treatments, medical equipment, and medication are developed every day, for the benefit of people from all parts of the world. To make all these available to patients speaking various languages worldwide, the industry needs translation services.

Every imported medication needs translated documents to get approved by the national authorities. A medicine used in the EU can be banned from the US if there’s an error in the reports and documents that prove its characteristics. A missed ingredient, measurements converted badly, or spelling errors can make a perfectly valid medicine improper for human consumption.

Without proper medical translation, companies in the industry can’t comply with local regulations. Medical translation has a key role in the development of congested documentation that companies must come up with to make it on the market.

Translators and language services providers work with a wide range of documents, from clinical trials, patents, and case reports to protocol documents and synopsis. They’re also responsible for all the information that arrives at patients under the form of:

  • Storage instructions
  • Indications and dosage forms
  • Side effects
  • Warnings and precautions
  • Expiry date
  • Contraindications
  • Drug interaction
  • Frequency of use

All these translations allow doctors to treat their patients using the latest discoveries in the field of medicine. They also permit patients to understand their treatment and what is happening to them.

A small error can generate a lack of trust between doctors and their patients. Bad translations can seminate panic among patients who can misunderstand the treatment, the diagnosis, or the side effects of the drugs they’re taking.

Modern Medicine and Research Are International

Physicians migration has generated many changes in the medical care systems all over the world. In the UK, 11 percent of all staff and 26 percent of doctors are non-English. In the European Union, more than 72,000 doctors chose to work in a foreign country inside the block in the past 20 years. And in the US, a quarter of the physicians were born outside the national borders.

Doctors must learn new languages from their native ones when working in other countries. However, medical terminology is very specific and can be a huge challenge, especially at the beginning.

All medical books, medical journals, and scientific research must be available for doctors from all over the world in their mother tongues. Translators make the information available to all specialists, making communication possible and efficient between physicians speaking various languages.  

This way, everybody has access to new data in the field, and this guarantees high standards for medical health care. Better than that, through medical translation, providers can train their specialists to the same standards everywhere in the world.

Even if most of these specialists speak good English, having materials available in their native languages allows them to learn better and to completely understand the information they receive.

The same is true for all staff working in hospitals, clinics, and other medical services providers. It’s a field where understanding the given instructions is essential to provide patients with the best services.

Modern medicine has no borders. Information needs to travel fast to allow communication between multinational teams of specialists – in both practice and research. Translators make this communication more efficient. Their deep knowledge in this field provides accuracy, which is vital to provide good care for patients.

In the global era, medical translation makes everything possible in a field where even the smallest mistake can make the difference between life and death.