The Basics of Medical Translation

The Basics of Medical Translation

When interacting with patients and medical professionals, doctors may need patient’s prescriptions, records, diagnoses and medical history translated to better understand these medical documents. Medical translation is also required for medical and pharmaceutical companies that ship brochures, products and devices to markets around the world. Here is a typical process for medical translation, as well as some quick tips.


Extracting text from source document

Medical translation is specialised and requires a lot of attention. Medical translators must have subject matter expertise in order to accurately translate various documents which range from labels to brochures, medical and patient journals, training materials and patents.

The process for medical translation usually starts with the extraction of the relevant text from the original source document. The text would then be translated into the target language.


A common translator’s skills may not be sufficient in medical translation due to the prevalence of specific terms, concepts and vocabulary in the this field. As medical texts are heavily intertwined with the lives of patients, there should also be a strong emphasis on the quality of medical translation. Medical industry is heavily regulated, and companies that need to translate their medical documents often choose professional, compliant and certified translation agencies.

A good medical translator should have excellent knowledge of medical terminology in language pairs they master. In order to accurately translate medical documents, he or she must possess a good dose of writing ability and have strong research, analysis and reading skills. Medical translation may also require one to access relevant reference materials and resources, as well as possess a profound knowledge of medical terminology and medical concepts.

Medical translators should continuously cultivate an in-depth understanding of the cultural differences of various countries. They must also fully understand the ethical issues of health care.

Some of the gold standards for translation services include the ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 for medical device manufacturing.


After translation, the text would be sent to an editor, who would check it to ensure that the translator adopted the right medical terms and meanings based on client or industry-approved medical terminology. This is because any detail that is inaccurately expressed could lead to serious consequences. This is why we should always make sure to engage a professional and reliable medical translation partner.

When translating medical texts from English to Spanish, for instance, an editor would also look out for the use of the right form of Spanish that is officially recognised in the target country or city. The editor would check for the tone of voice, as well as the style of writing that closely mirrors that of the source document.

Proofreading and formatting

After the translated text is approved and checked by the editor, it would be placed back into its original format. This could take the form of an e-learning program, a webpage, or a brochure.

The translated text would then be proofread to ensure that the text would display correctly after being formatted. The proofreader would look out for any corrupted or garbled text, whether page breaks are applied correctly, and if proper punctuation is used.

In-Country Review

Once the text is correctly formatted and proofread, the document is handed over to a local subject matter expert, who is usually a native speaker of the target language. The local subject matter expert will review the work to make sure that all the specifications required by the client are met. Once the document is approved by the local subject matter expert, it will be sent back to the client.


As a one-stop service provider, elionetwork delivers expertise in medical translation for all of your prospective target markets. To request a quote, get in touch with us and we will be happy to help.