Many times people do not give the art of translation the importance it deserves. The average person will frequently look at the word “translation” and understand its meaning in the broadest of definitions and no idea why a medical translation company is so important. This is not necessarily incorrect because Webster’s Dictionary defines translation as “the rendering from one language into another”. That’s it! It speaks nothing of the skill it takes to perform this task accurately. As the world becomes smaller through the broadening of our technology, a greater number of people today speak more than one language. From the dictionary definition, we can assume there are millions of translators among us. And it is precisely this general assumption that causes the greatest misunderstanding between a skilled, certified translator and someone who is bilingual. A bilingual individual can speak 2 languages with an aptitude from “functional” to “native”. However, even native speakers may not possess the training and skill set it takes to be a translator. I purposely described translation as an art form in the first sentence of this article. It takes so much more than the understanding of two languages to be a translator. Written language contains intangibles such as emotion, tone, purpose, importance and meaning. A skilled translator can capture and represent the literal and the intangible with both languages in which he/she is working.
The medical industry is the #2 regulated industry in the world, only second to aerospace. When translating in such a regulated industry, mastering the skills one needs to be a certified translator is not enough. To be a professional medical translator or medical editor, a person must be a subject matter expert. As you can imagine, truly comprehending complex medical terminology in one language takes years of education and experience. Imagine the knowledge and understanding it would take for someone to be proficient using this complex medical terminology in two languages. Professionals in the medical industry can specialize in one area of medicine. Medical translators can do the same. Similar to a cardiologist being an expert in the human heart, a medical translator can possess translation expertise in cardiology. Many times translators first have the educational and/or industry background within a certain area of medicine and then train to be translators. This is the ideal candidate for your certified medical translator.
So far we have been discussing the profile of one medical translator with expertise in two languages. For a product manufacturer in pharmaceuticals, medical devices, biologics, or other areas of life sciences, this is only one piece to a very large puzzle. International marketing efforts may call for the need to translate into multiple languages which would require teams of medical translators to work on a single medical translation project. This is where a professional medical translation company is needed.
The right medical translation company will assign a dedicated project manager to organize all aspects of the medical translation project. He/she will organize the linguistic teams, one for each target language typically consisting of a translator, and editor, and a proofreader, a graphics and desktop publishing team to handle the format and layout of the file once it is translated, and an engineering team to handle the preparation of the files for the linguists prior to translation and the compiling of the files prior to client delivery.
With the proper team assembled, a top-notch medical translation company’s primary focus will be on quality. An inaccurate translation could result in the improper use of the product which might result in injury or death to an operator, technician, doctor, nurse, or patient. A highly qualified medical translation firm will possess the proper ISO certifications for their processes. Just like product manufacturers, the right medical translation firm will be certified to ISO 9001 and ISO 13485. The firm will also be certified to ISO 17100, an extremely important certification in the European Union for translation companies. A competent medical translation company will have implemented a documented Quality Management System as defined by their Quality Manual. Their Quality System will be assessed by way of internal audits, external audits, performed by their Notified Body, and management reviews. The focus of this quality effort is to produce very precise, very accurate translations and to mitigate any and all risk of delivering an incorrect translation.
Select a medical translation company who work with linguists who are certified translators with medical industry experience
Select a medical translation company who can guarantee that all of your medical translation projects will be handled by certified medical translators
Select a medical translation company who is ISO 17100- certified
Select a medical translation company who has each of their facilities ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 certified. A blanket statement that the company is ISO 9001 and/or ISO 13485 certified is incorrect. The individual facilities are what are certified and you need to be sure that your translation projects are being done in ISO certified facilities.
Select a medical translation company who will deliver what they promise regarding cost and delivery
Select a medical translation company who will certify their translation projects
Rely on translation software or “machine translations” to translate your important medical text
Allow someone who is not a certified translator with medical experience, i.e. a bilingual distributor or a bilingual colleague, to perform your translations
Hire a translation company who does not have medical industry experience to work on your translation projects (i.e. a translation company specializing in law or litigation)
Choose a translation company that is extremely underpriced. Chances are they are utilizing translation software or cutting corners by not performing the necessary quality assurance steps. In the end you will get what you pay for. Accurate medical translation services are an investment. Choose the service where the quality meets or exceeds your expectations.