Medical Report Translations can be a Challenge

Last Updated On: June 19, 2017

inTranslation Tips

Medical Document Translation

Medical Document TranslationMost translations of medical reports can be a challenge, especially if the report comes in the form of a scanned PDF or even an image file – which is often the case.

There is a process that should be followed before the medical document translation should begin. This is particularly important for medical reports because they often consist of a series of spaces that need to be filled in by the medical professional concerned which are not always either easy to follow or easy to read. There is often duplication of information too, such as name, bed number and address. You should ask the client first how much duplication is necessary so that repetition can be avoided. Of course if in doubt translate the whole report as you find it. If it is to be used as part of an insurance claim a complete and accurate translation is essential.


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Before you start the translation your priority is to check with the client whether a complete translation is required. Once this has been established then the price to be paid should be confirmed in advance. A few clients are happy to pay in advance for this type of document translation service.

Translating a Scanned Copy

Often, medical reports or documents that are sent to the translator by email are scanned first. Scanned documents need to be converted into an editable form before the translation can commence. There are programmes such as Abbyy FineReader that can do the conversion. You may think that the translation could just be started on a new Word document but there are certain drawbacks to not converting a scanned document. One drawback inherent in medical reports is that there is often so much material that is duplicated, such as the name and address of the patient, which do not require translating and can just be copied and pasted when required on a document that is editable.

Understanding and Translating Abbreviations

Abbreviations are commonplace on medical reports but there are sources available in a variety of languages such as MediLexicon which is an excellent English resource for medical abbreviations, while Siglas médicas en español includes 90,000 meanings as well as 30,000 entries in Spanish. You can also use a Google search for abbreviations you are unable to locate.

Translating of Drug Names

In medical reports, drug brand names are often used for a drug. These should stay in that form, whatever the language, but the INN or the “International Nonproprietary Name” can be placed in brackets .

A Word of Warning with Medical Report Translations

Don’t touch any medical report that has been written by hand, as misunderstandings can take place which could compromise the validity of the medical report.

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