Top Challenges Faced When Translating Medical Document

Top Challenges Faced When Translating Medical Documents
Top Challenges Faced When Translating Medical Documents

Translation is more important than ever in a globalized business landscape. In today’s competitive business world, failure to localize is a failure to survive. But, in some cases, translation can be a matter of life and death.

Yes, we are referring to the field of medical translation, where using the right words can be critical. Ironically, this is one type of translation that is also the most challenging. The fact that there is practically no room for error is, in itself, the first challenge that medical translators are forced to face.

But, challenges are meant to be overcome. That’s why they exist in the first place. One way to overcome challenges is by actually getting to know what they are.

Here are some of the primary challenges facing medical translation today.


Most medical translators are required to possess specific kind of experience in the medical field. However, even that can prove to be too little at times. This is especially true when they are forced to deal with specializations.

The world of medicine is full of specializations. You have cardiology, dermatology, oncology, and paediatrics etc. just to name a few. So, even if you have translators with medical experience, they may not be well-versed in each and every area.

So, how can we overcome this challenge?

Well, medical translation professionals and companies need to leverage the knowledge offered by subject matter experts. To put it simply, you need to have a few specialists on call. This can greatly reduce and even completely eliminate the translation errors that arise due to specialization issues.

Differences in Communication

In medical translation, audience expectation can often influence the translation process or result. In general, there are 4 types of medical translation categories:

  • Non-Professional or Reporter to Reader
  • Professional or Doctor to Doctor
  • Professional to Non-Professional or Doctor to Patient
  • Professional to Semi-Professional or Doctor to Medical Student/Nurse

As you can see, the communication can vary depending on the scenario. Translators have to determine the likely line of communication before actually starting the process. Having due diligence is the only way to overcome the communication barrier.

Translators have to find out who the target audience is and tailor the content appropriately, complying with regulations such as doctor-patient confidentiality.


Naturally, the terms used in the field of medicine is alien to the people outside of the profession due to the specific terminology used. So, there are scenarios where medical translators find themselves clueless about what to do.

There are two ways to overcome this challenge. Firstly, the hired translator must possess substantial experience in the medical field. Secondly, the translation provider must have an expert or specialist on call for guidance regarding such matters.


So, as you can see, these are a handful of the challenges that plague medical translation. However, like all problems, they too have solutions; like the ones we just discussed. In fact, just being aware of these challenges is half the problem solved.

The next step is to conduct a thorough review of your translation process and identify problem areas. Have a brainstorming session and figure out how you can overcome them. Talk to a few experts.

 Why Professional Translation Is Necessary 


Why Professional Translation Is Necessary

When entering a foreign market, companies often forget the prominent existence of the language barrier. Achieve your business goals by engaging a professional translator!

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