What are the Best Practices in Medical Translation?


All aspects of the healthcare industry require keen attention to detail, especially when it comes to translation. Since not everyone can speak English, translation is vital for people who need healthcare but do not speak the language. It includes all healthcare materials that are for public use.  

Moreover, medical institutions have the responsibility to have accessible professional medical interpreters and translators in the form of verbal communication. According to translingua-translations.com, these language service providers (LSP) must be medical subject experts to provide accurate medical document translations. 

Access to language services in healthcare institutions is critical, especially for emergency cases. They must provide access for: 

      Phone call interpreting

      Video interpreting


      Face-to-face interpreting 

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), there are 64 non-English commonly spoken in the United States. CMS issued a mandatory provision for healthcare institutions to provide language services in 15 most widely spoken languages in each state. 

Essential Characteristics Medical Translators Should Have 

A medical translator needs to not only understand the needs of professionals in the medical field, but also be empathetic to the concerns of the audiences. We often feel that the language needs to be of a certain kind to make it easy for everyone to understand. If it is too complicated, it stands the risk of being ignored or overlooked.

So, what are the characteristics that medical translators should have to comply with these directives? 

      A healthcare institution's team of medical translators must be subject matter experts. It may be in particular fields, including pediatrics, orthopedics, cardiothoracic, neurology, urology, oncology, gastroenterology, etc.

      They must have prior experience working in the medical field.

      They must be native speakers of the language that the healthcare institution and patients have.

      They must follow a consistent style and glossary to ensure that it conforms to the healthcare institution's texts and documents.

      They must provide translations that are audience-appropriate and culturally sensitive. 

NOTE: Using family members to translate or interpret medical contents is against the law. 

Best Practices in Medical Translation 

The following are the best practices in medical translation: 

      Medical LSPs must provide quality assurance and cost-effective services.

      Healthcare institutions must identify the language needs of patients.

      Determine the document types that need translation as well as the required format. Make sure that it complies with the requirements of the CMS Language Access Program.

      Plan appropriately for the implementation of the translation program abides by the medical institution's practices. Determine the process, format, frequency, and form of interpretation work.

      Healthcare institutions must provide their medical LSP an up-to-date style guide and glossary.

      All documents, patient records, consent forms, and instructions must be translated into the languages of the community that the institution belongs to. It also includes non-standard files with patient-specific data.

      The forms must be simple and easy to understand for non-English speaking people.

      Medical institutions must participate in each step of the translation process to ensure quality and accuracy.

      Both healthcare providers and translators/interpreters must be updated with medical laws and regulations. 

Best Practices for Medical Website Translation 

Nowadays, most healthcare institutions put up a website that patients can access conveniently. It serves as an extension of the service medical institutions provide. Hence, it is necessary to provide these websites with language translations into the common languages the institution belongs in. 

It's vital to work with a global language company for medical website translations to provide patients accurate initial information and ensure consistent content. Translators can help in improving marketing and sales activities for businesses. They can also act as a very important tool for branding and exposure for the company.

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