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One of the keys to administering treatment and appropriate healthcare to patients is good communication taking place between patients and healthcare providers. This often becomes more difficult when working in multiple language settings where a common language is not shared. It’s not just verbal communication that’s important but also being able to understand the medical history of patients and any ailments that they suffer from.

Medical translations of oral conversations between patients and healthcare providers help to speed up the treatment process so a cure of an ailment is more likely. Many doctors speak English even if their native language is not English, but they rarely have the ability to speak too many other languages. Of course, as well as translators providing translations of key medical documents, such as a patient’s medical history, there are also medical interpreters available to interpret one to one conversations between medical professions and their patients. This is a lot quicker than waiting for a translator to return a written translation of a medical document.

Challenges of Medical Translations

One of the drawbacks of using a medical translator or interpreter is being sure the medical translation is accurate. If a doctor wants to speed up a diagnosis and find a cure for a patient he or she needs to be able to communicate effectively with the patient so as much background information from the patient is required as soon as possible.

A medical translation is always a challenge, as the translator can’t afford to make mistakes in the translation otherwise the diagnosis and treatment may not be fully addressing the medical needs of the patient. It isn’t good enough to simply know the source and targeted languages but the medical language needs to be translated accurately to be of any use to the medical community.  

Specializing in Medical Translations is Essential for Diagnosis and Cure

Medical translations have to be precise so that means a translator who concentrates on paediatric medical conditions may not have a broad enough experience to translate documents in the obstetrics field. It’s important for the whole medical field that a translator specialises and remains translating in that area and doesn’t try to take on other medical areas. One reason for this is that each medical area uses medical terminology in a slightly different way which is something the specialist medical translator gets to know well.

Subject-Matter Skills Necessary for a Medical Translator

When a medical translator starts out he or she develops skills to be an effective medical translator that allows medical practitioners to communicate well with patients so diagnosis and cure are as quick as possible. The translator builds up expertise as an accurate medical translator through years of exposure to the subject matter.

The sorts of activities that enable the pursuit of medical subject matter expertise could include any of the following:

● Taking courses related to the medical field
● Attending conferences in the medical field
● Studying books and journals to access up to date terminology

One of the biggest dangers for any medical translator is taking on difficult medical texts with the hope of gaining relevant translation knowledge. This could spell disaster for the doctor who is dependent on getting an accurate translation of a patient’s medical history. It’s rare for a medical translator who is trying to build up medical translation skills to gain sufficient competence without having conducted a careful study of the language and the terms that are used in the target language medical field for an extended period of time. The medical field is highly specialised and any translations require a high degree of knowledge of medical terminology in the source and target languages in order to be successful.


Diagnosing and treating a patient is dependent on quick communication and this can only take place if a medical interpreter or translator is available on the spot to speed up communication. This doesn’t mean a general interpreter or translator, but someone who has built up a high level of translation expertise in the medical field. An accurate medical translation is always the result and speeds up diagnosis and cure on the part of the doctor.

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