Have you ever thought about how important medical translations are? The translation of medical documents plays a vital role in the healthcare system worldwide, and can even save lives.
Medical knowledge is continuously growing, and with it the amount of medical information that is published every day in the world is multiplying. As the majority of medical documents is published in English, the translation of medical documents allows the non-English speaking world to benefit from it, and also allows English speakers access to the medical information published in other languages.
Think about all the medical research, findings from studies, new treatments, procedures, new medical equipment and technology, and all type of improvements in disease prevention and treatment. Sharing of this medical information by scientists and healthcare providers in different countries is of the highest importance, and it happens thanks to the proffesionals medical translators who carry on the translation of medical documents.
On the other hand, the translator’s responsibilities, and the risks involved in the translation of medical documents are huge. If specialization is important in the translation industry in general, then specialization in the field of medical translation is absolutely vital. Medical translators must have specific skills and training in the health industry, since their work must be 100% accurate. Indeed, when it comes to healthcare, there is no room for error, since even a small mistake can lead to serious consequences. A single misunderstanding of any instructions such as drug dosage or the way to operate a medical instrument can mean the aggravation of a patient’s condition or even worse, the loss of a human life.
However, it not unusual to hear about translation errors occurring in the healthcare sector, and these mistakes sometimes cost lives. An example of this is a story that took place some years ago: an incorrect translation of the instructions for orthopaedic implants caused serious health problems for several patients at Sankt Hedwig hospital, in Berlin. Some of the patients even needed to have another operation because of this mistake. The director of the hospital declares that it was an “unforgivable mistake”. And it really was.
A similar case related with translation of medical documents occurred in France. Some cancer patients received overdoses of radiation treatment, resulting in the deaths of 4 people. The cause of this tragedy was found to be related to language translation issues.
Why does these cases keep happening? Are there still some people who is not enough aware of the crucial importance of the translation of medical documents? What do you think?
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