Different Types of Medical Translations

Last Updated On: February 6, 2022


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Australia is a multicultural country with a high percentage of the population whose first language is not English. Many people arrive in Australia who speak no English language at all and even 1st Nation Australians often speak a different language at home. These facts make it even more important that medical information is translated into the languages of those who are expected to have access to the information.

There are several types of medical translations that are in demand every day. The first is healthcare translation when a professional translator is used to communicate between a healthcare professional and a patient who does not speak the language of the healthcare professional. A specialized healthcare translator is trained to handle the demanding situations that occur in a healthcare environment and can translate any type of medical document such as a patient’s medical record which they have brought from their native country and is written in their native language.


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    The second is medical translation when an experienced medical translator has the knowledge to translate anything that is medically related to a patient. This is not only communication between the patient and the translator but also anything that is linked to medical services too. This can help the patient with limited English to access key medical services.

    The third is a pharmaceutical translation which involves the translating of labels, instructions, directions of use on medicine boxes and bottles and also includes translating the consent form for patients just about to undertake an operation. Even a small error can potentially end up in an accident, an overdose, or even a lawsuit if somebody failed to understand what they have consented to before surgery takes place or fails to take medicine as prescribed.

    The fifth is a prescription translation which is similar to a pharmaceutical translation as a prescription has to be perfectly translated so that the patients know when to take the medicine prescribed to them and the possible side effects. 

    The sixth is clinical translation, which involves the translations of clinical trials and other medical projects. Some of these trials take years to complete and health providers have to know the results of these trials if they wish to get drugs and other medical devices approved for use by their patients.  There is a large amount of documentation that often needs translations including thousands of different drug ingredients, notes, labs, and clinical documents that have been involved in the trials. Just one simple error in translation could erase many years of time and energy. The research behind all clinical trials is big and all evidence and documentation of a medical trial must be perfect before it passes the trials and ends up in the market. It is important to get such documents translated correctly by high skilled translators. 

    There is a wide variety of medical documents that often need translating, both print and electronic. Whether you are responsible for running a hospital or health centre, a medical research team or a drug company you will often need to communicate with speakers of other languages apart from your own. Some examples are:

    • staff training documents and videos; 
    • test reports;
    • scientific journal articles; 
    • questionnaires; 
    • patient-reported outcomes (PRO); 
    • patient information; 
    • material supplier contracts; 
    • legal and regulatory documents; 
    • informed consent forms; 
    • drug registration documents;
    • clinical trials’ reports; 
    • clinical protocol documents;
    • case report forms. 

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