Document Translation Healthcare

What Are The Top Mistakes In Medical Translations?

February 25, 2020
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Frequently, hometown hospitals treat patients who are not fluent in English, leading to the need for medical translation. Successful medical translation companies can prepare patient materials, forms, websites, and other information in foreign languages. Doctors and nurses will be better informed about the state of their foreign patient’s health if they have translated health care records, for instance. Below are listed the top mistakes in medical translations to keep an eye out for. After all, the stakes are higher than ever when we are talking about health.

Not Using A Professional Service

In medical situations, doctors and hospitals often seek interpreting help from family members, which can quickly become a problematic situation. There are lots of hospitals that utilize phone services, where they can quickly get help in multiple languages; however, the people who work for those language services often aren’t certified, so they aren’t necessarily up-to-speed with the current medical terminology. Even a simple misunderstanding concerning something like medication dosage or patient allergies can have serious consequences, so it is best to trust medical translation to professional linguists who are experts in the field.

Not Translating In The Appropriate Style

Translators with minimal experience may not fully comprehend all the detailed aspects of styling in a script. Because of unfamiliarity with the target language, they translate a document without knowledge of its appropriate style, changing the essence of a document. To convey the real meaning of a topic, it is important to translate a document in the correct tone. For instance, a script of a medical or legal document will sound completely different compared to a script from a movie. This is why it is important to opt for using a professional translation company for all of your language needs, to avoid mistakes in medical translations.

Inconsistent Use of Neologisms, Synonyms, Obsolete Terms

The medical industry provides a unique challenge for translators, as there are new terms constantly emerging. Translators must be critical in the use of new terms and synonyms. Also, with the medical fields, there is a constant mixing of obsolete and soon-to-be-obsolete terminology. Since the pace of language change in the medical field is rather high, it is difficult to update and correct referencing dictionaries and specialized glossaries. Obviously, this can lead to some translation issues, so it is best to work with a translation company that is up-to-date with the medical field.

Opting For Google Translate

According to Neuroxia, in a new study by the British Medical Journal, a tech-savvy clinician and consultant team chose ten phrases often used by doctors in a clinical setting and translated them into 26 languages with Google Translate. For the sake of detail, they covered languages of a wide variety of linguistic families, including 8 Western European, 5 Eastern European, 11 Asian and 2 African.  According to the study, “the algorithm did not perform well, with Western European languages approaching 74% correct rates, Eastern European languages following with 62% correct rates, Asian at 46%, and African languages finishing last at 45%. Overall the correct language percentage for all languages was 57.7%.”
The point is clear: though “just Google it” is a common phrase used to answer everything, it does not apply to health-related translations. If you want to learn more about how machine translations stack up against human translations, check out this blog post, “What Is The Difference Between Human And Machine Translations?”

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