Medical translation: what is it, and why is it important?



Business in the area of human and animal health is constantly advancing and growing. Every year, we witness the entry of new medicines on the market, the development of innovative medical services and devices, and the expansion of medical and pharmaceutical sector companies into international markets.

In this article, we will explain what medical translation consists of, and why it is so important to healthcare companies.

What is medical translation?

The term “medical translation” refers to the interpretation of texts involving the medical and pharmaceutical industry in a given language, and the creation of documents which say the same thing in other languages.

In a worldwide study with translators from 97 countries, the CSA Research institute found that demand for translation services in the healthcare sector was up 49% ¹ in 2020 (Figure 1).

Figure 1 - Percent growth in demand for translation services in various markets.  Data from the CSA Research institute, 2020.

Figure 1- Percent growth in demand for translation services in various markets. Data from the CSA Research institute, 2020.

In this sector, a variety of materials must be prepared, whose information is highly specialized and sensitive, including:

  • documents on the development and registry of medicines and medical devices for regulatory purposes;
  • marketing documents, such as brochures and websites, for the purposes of advertising and marketing healthcare products and services;
  • documents on the business itself, such as business plans, for the purposes of expanding into international markets.

Most countries require this documentation to be written and presented in the official national language. Therefore, if producing these clinical and scientific documents is a demanding process, translating them into another language can be just as challenging, complex and time-consuming.

Why is medical translation important?

To help answer this question, consider the following example:

“The treatment is based on administering potassium-sparing diuretics, such as amiloride or triamterene, which act by blocking the activity of the ENaC. This causes blood pressure to go down and corrects hypokalaemia and metabolic alkalosis.”².

Without medical knowledge and proper scientific training, a translator would be incapable of translating this information into another language with the required technical and scientific accuracy and linguistic quality.

So, why is medical translation so important?

Scientific and medical terminology is complex

Scientific and medical lingo has numerous terms which are technical and complex. A translator not specialized in the area may interpret texts incorrectly, resulting in mistranslations. A simple mistake in interpreting a word involving, for example, the dose of a medication could have serious side effects for patients.

Medical translation encompasses a wide range of clinical and scientific specializations

In addition to complex medical terminology, the area of healthcare has a number of different clinical specializations. These often have specific acronyms and abbreviations in reference to organs, illnesses, procedures and equipment, which makes the translation process even more challenging and complex.

Many countries require documentation to be written in the official national language

To guarantee a translation’s complete scientific and linguistic accuracy, it is essential that translators have a wide-ranging knowledge of medicine, pharmacology and other scientific areas, and be native-speaking professionals in the required mother tongue.

A text's linguistic quality is important in building trust in the entity or person who authored it. Imagine you want to begin marketing your products in another country. How could you ensure the proper credibility and quality of your materials: by using the translation services of a native or non-native professional?

Medical translation services

If you need medical translation services, we recommend that you use certified, specialized companies.

L10N is a Portuguese company with 20 years of experience which offers medical and pharmaceutical translation services certified in 40 languages. These are done by professional translators who specialize in the area of healthcare and are native speakers of the required mother tongue.

Request a quote using the form below.

¹, accessed in September 2021.

², accessed in September 2021.

Related news

L10N Chat
I would like to know more about L10N's services
This site uses cookies to enhance your experience. When you continue to browse, you are accepting You are using an outdated browser. Please, upgrade your browser to improve your experience.