Watch Out For These Medical Translation Mistakes!

Translation errors happen, sometimes with trivial consequences, other times causing huge damage ─ possibly to the brand’s image, or, on a diplomatic level, they may fracture international relations. All in all, mistranslation is probably the only serious side effect in an industry that connects people, countries and cultures.


Irreparable Consequences of Medical Translation Errors

When it comes to medical translation services, partnering with a medical translation agency that makes translation errors is bound to end in tragedy! This is not an area where you can just say “Mistakes happen.” With people’s lives and well-being on the line, there should be zero tolerance for mistakes.

There have been many cases of non-professional translation vendors having committed grave errors resulting in loss of life. So, it is no exaggeration to say that choosing the wrong medical translation agency could increase the likelihood of further fatalities in the future. With this in mind, it is imperative that the highest quality of translation be attained in each and every sector of the healthcare and pharma industry.


Tough Regulations for Medical Translation Services

All the stakeholders involved in the medical, healthcare and pharma sectors know quite well that medical translation services are among the most highly regulated sectors of the entire language services industry. On the ground, local, regional and international regulations govern the materials that should be translated and how data is transferred and kept, in addition to regulating the translation process itself.

In most countries, healthcare service vendors are required to translate patient information sheets, marketing materials and forms for clinical trials into the local language of the target market, and, in some countries, into minority languages too.  

As for medical content that targeted at healthcare professionals, patent applications and applications for regulatory approval must be translated in almost all countries around the world.

Almost all regulatory agencies for medical devices across the globe have made it mandatory for manufacturers to translate marketing materials and instructions for medical professionals and patients, as well as user interfaces for device software and firmware.

Across the countries of the European Union, it’s mandatory to translate medical device marketing materials into all 24 official and working languages of the EU member states. In other non-European nations, the marketing materials must be translated into the official language of the target market, and sometimes into minority languages too.

As for pharma translation regulations, they are so stringent that some regulatory bodies may impose formatting requirements for translated documents, such as font size and colors!


Examples of Errors in Medical Translation Services

The medical translation services sector is a very serious business, and the accuracy of a translation in this field is both vital and critical.

Let’s take a look at one tragic example that demonstrates the significant role and responsibility of medical translation agencies – the story of Ramirez.

An 18-year-old young man, Ramirez, developed a headache all of a sudden while he was out with his friends and lost consciousness. At the hospital, his family told doctors that he was “intoxicado” which in Spanish can refer to any type of poisoning – in this case, the family suspected food poisoning. However, probably due to its similarity with the English word ‘intoxicated’, it was assumed that he was suffering from a drug overdose and he was treated accordingly. 

Had there been a Spanish translator present at the hospital, they would have given the correct translation to the doctors, who would have then administered the appropriate treatment.   

Instead: Ramirez woke up to find himself paralysed after a brain bleed left him quadriplegic for life. 71 million US dollars were paid out in compensation. The crushing fact, however, is that Ramirez’s condition was treatable, and this life-changing circumstance could have been avoided if it weren’t for this fundamental medical translation error. 


Is a Professional Medical Translation Agency the True Panacea?

So, how can healthcare, medical and pharma businesses avoid these pitfalls? The answer is straight and to the point: Just choose the right medical translation agency! Choose a translation partner who will convey the messages of your medical material to all users ─ patients and medical professionals alike ─ in each and every market across the globe? But how do you choose? What are the criteria to look for?


Why TW Languages?

At TW Languages, we guarantee an accurate medical translation service. We’re proud of our world-class team of translators, who are not just professional in-country translators, but also qualified and experienced in the medical translation field.

Our team prides themselves on their knowledge of the nuances of all target languages, ensuring that medical terms are accurately translated in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Moreover, TW Languages is an ISO 17100 certified, ATC (Association of Translation Companies) member, and follows the most rigorous quality process in the entire medical translation services industry, covering 250 languages.


Don’t hesitate to contact our customer support team today to discuss how we can meet your medical translation needs or to receive a free quote.