Medical Translation

July 11th, 2010

Medicine is one of the oldest branches of science and has been in existence since time immemorial. Ancient Egyptian medicine, Babylonian medicine, Indian Ayurvedic medicine, classical Chinese medicine etc. trace their origins to as early as 3rd millennium B.C. Translation of medical terminology is also very old, one of the earliest organized effort being that of Toledo School of Translation established by Archbishop Raimundus (1125-1152 AD). Medical translation involves specialist knowledge and medical translators need to have advanced degrees in medicine apart from a flair for language. Medicine involves many specializations like anaesthesia, orthopaedics, immunology, cardiology, neurology, nephrology, ophthalmology, pathology, radiology, dermatology, dentistry, gastroenterology, oncology and the like. Medical translators are sought after by medical equipment manufacturers, medical researchers, pharmaceutical firms, clinicians etc. professional translation services would be required if in house expertise is not available in order to carry out accurate translations. Typically, medical translation in hospitals involves translating documents and reports such as patient records like case report forms, patient questionnaires, clinical trials, discharge summaries, medical reports and charts, prescriptions and insurance claims, etc. In pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturing companies documents such as drug registration, instructions for use (IFUs) and inserts, informed consent forms, installation manuals, packaging and labelling, operating manuals, patent filings, product specifications, regulatory documents, software application interface, toxicology reports, protocols, web based contents etc would require translation. Translation in the field of medical research would involve translating scientific papers, medical terminology glossaries, abstracts, questionnaires etc. With bulk of the medical literature available in English and German knowledge of these two languages would be very useful for medical translators. Also most of the terminology being Latin or Greek based makes the job of a medical translator a little easier compared to other fields of translation. A good medical translator should have apart from proficiency in source and target languages, researching capabilities. He/she must keep abreast of the latest medical terminology by going through most recent journals as well as browsing the web. Typical tools required for medical translation would be up-to-date scientific and medical dictionaries, books, online access to internet etc. With the recent declaration of software as a device by regulators in Europe, localization of software packages for medical applications like in other areas assumes great importance. Graphical User Interface (GUI), online help files, error messages, user manuals etc. need to be accurately translated in various European languages if one intends to market software in Europe.

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