Auscultation, congenital, intravenous and prophylaxis. These are already difficult terms in English — let alone when you translate them. They are medical terms that you come across in clinical trials, in medical reports, in patient diaries and more. Translating these terms comes with great responsibilities. You don’t want any room for misinterpretation, so it’s important to outsource the medical translation to the right translation agency. But how do you find that medical translation agency?

Euro-Com has extensive experience with medical texts and does regular work for hospitals, among others. We know how important it is that the translations are good and we also know how to achieve that. We also know how important it is that you feel good about the person doing your medical translation. That’s why this blog includes 8 tips to find the best medical translation agency.

Choose a translation company that understands you and the importance of accurate medical translations

Whether it concerns technical product sheets, user instructions, information on toxicology, pharmacological instructions, doctor’s notes or any medical document whatsoever, accuracy is called for. Sometimes people’s lives literally depend on the correct translation of a medical term. It concerns medical procedures, drug compositions or treatment instructions, and one small mistake can have major consequences. Although we will always be an advocate of accuracy, in medical translations it’s of vital importance. There is no room for error when it comes to people’s health. Not only because it can harm the patient but it can also harm you.

Medical translations - medical translators

What a medical translation agency should always pay extra attention to with regards to medical translations:
• Directions and use
• Storage instructions
Dosage forms
• Warnings
• Precautionary measures
• Side effects
• Drug interactions
• Frequency of use
• Contraindications
• Expiry dates

A good translation agency also pays extra attention to readability. The information must be very precise and correct as well as clear and simple. So that the person for whom the medical translation is intended actually understands what it says.

Check whether the translator has the correct medical knowledge and experience

Not every translator is the same. Even if your knowledge of the language is that good — if you have no idea what the medical text means, it’s impossible to translate it properly. If you want to be sure of a good medical translation, you opt for a specialist medical translator. Such a translator understands the text from A to Z, in both the original language and the translated language. A medical translator has knowledge of the specific terms in at least the source and target languages. So ask whether the translator has experience in the medical world, whether he or she is familiar with your text type and how much translation experience he or she has gained. To give you an idea; as a (among other things) medical translation agency we only use native translators with at least five years of experience and a background in the relevant industry or sector. They are highly educated, work(ed) in the medical world and followed relevant training. And it’s that combination of knowledge and expertise that ensures the best medical translations.

Also read: Why native translators provide better translations

Don’t save on quality

Cheap always sounds appealing. We do understand that. Nobody likes to pay more than necessary. But if we look at all the studies on translation errors often being the cause of medical errors, a specialist medical translator is really indispensable. And it makes sense that you pay for the relevant education and training they followed, their experience in the medical world and their translation experience. A good medical translator knows the following inside and out:
• Symbols
• Icons
• Units and dimensions
• Terminology
• Abbreviations

The medical world is changing rapidly and the language is constantly changing as well. Sometimes medical concepts merge resulting in new terminology. In fact, it’s a source of neologisms — newly invented words or expressions are the order of the day. If the translator is not a native and has no knowledge of the medical field, it’s almost impossible for him/her to keep up to date. And it isn’t really doable for you to set up, maintain and correct reference dictionaries and specialised word lists. Unless a translator knows exactly what he or she is doing, it will lead to translation problems.

A medical translator knows what the text is about, keeps abreast of the correct medical terms and concepts and maintains an up-to-date knowledge of the language. This prevents translation mistakes and all the associated consequences. You will understand that these translators are more expensive than a non-specialist translator. (And you will also understand that the price tag associated with a (translation) error in the medical world is much higher.)

Also read: You’d want to avoid these 6 mistakes in medical translations

Check the quality control of the medical translation agency

Two people see more than one. And no matter how you approach it, translating is the work of people, with or without software (more about this below). No matter how good you are at your translation work, a mistake can creep in unnoticed. This is not a problem for translation agencies with an extensive quality control system. For example, our process includes the scrutiny of no less than three pairs of eyes; the medical translator, the reviewer and your project manager.

Making mistakes is human and we prefer to reduce that risk as much as possible. That’s why we collaborate with highly trained translators and all our translators, translations and quality control meet high standards. In this way we prevent a comma from missing in a crucial place, ensure that all abbreviations are correct and that the translation, once it drops on your digital doorstep, will be error-free.

Check the certifications of the translation agency

A relatively easy check to find out whether you’re dealing with a good translation agency; check the certifications. Many certifications are not mandatory, so if the translation agency does seem to have them it certainly says something about them. Euro-Com has three: ISO 9001, ISO 17100 and ISO 18587.

ISO 9001 is a household name in almost all sectors. It’s an internationally recognised standard in quality management. Explained very simply, it’s about saying what you do, doing what you say and proving it. Each year, an independent organisation assesses whether one still meet the requirements and only if one does, will one receive the internationally recognised certificate. The advantages to you; you are our focus, you can trust us, you can count on high-quality translations and continuous improvement.

ISO 17100 was especially developed for translation service providers. If you have this certificate, it means that your process (from quote to completion of the project) and the deployment of means and resources are in good order. An external auditor will check each year whether Euro-Com complies with the following, among other things:

• The translation process.
• Quality of all translations.
• Professional project management.
• Meeting the requirements and wishes of the client.
• Requirements for translators, reviewers, proofreaders and project managers.

ISO 18587, as well as ISO 17100, is not a necessity, but we are nonetheless certified for it. This certificate certifies that we work with software in a professional manner, that the work is done by the right people and that the correctors and proofreaders pursue a high level of quality.

Ask if they work with translation software

A good translation agency also uses good software. This may bring to mind Google Translate, for example, but it’s something entirely different. A good example would be the translation memory (also referred to as TM). This is a database full of repeated and previously translated words and the translation agency will only create one if requested. It would come in quite useful because:
• You get consistent translations.
• Your investment is lower, because repeated words will result in a discount.
• It’s efficient and you often receive your translations faster.

Good to know; the decisions are always made by a human translator. Does the software make a suggestion, while the translator thinks another word would be better? Then he or she rejects the suggestion because the most important aspect of your translation will always be the quality.

What’s their approach to confidentiality?

Medical texts are pre-eminently texts that you want to keep confidential. They often contain sensitive and private information that you’ll undoubtedly want to protect. Sharing medical texts always comes with a potential risk. In this respect it can’t hurt to see how the medical translation agency of your choice handles your documents.

Our translators have their affairs in order; they work with the most recent antivirus software, use only software that they’re licensed to use, and consistently update their operating systems. In addition, all Euro-Com translators are required to sign confidentiality agreements (also known as an NDA or non-disclosure agreement). This ensures that your documents are in good hands and that you don’t run the risk of your medical translations ending up with the wrong people.

Think about whether you consider personal contact important and investigate how the translation agency has organised this

Do you value a personal point of contact? Ask the medical translation agency what their policy is in this respect before entering into a collaboration. Not every translation agency will automatically assign a personal project manager, so feel free to ask if one would be available if needed. The advantage of having your “own” project manager is that there’s always someone who is aware of all your requirements and preferences, who monitors your deadline and who solves any problems before they actually occur. 

Also read: 7 reasons why project managers deliver international success

Require a quote for medical translations?

Ultimately, it’s always up to you to choose the translation agency that best suits you and the job. Are you considering working with Euro-Com? Requesting a quote is completely free of charge and without obligation. We’ll make sure that the quote drops in your digital mailbox within two hours.