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.

Using the right words can be critical when it comes to medical translation. Practically no room for error in itself makes it the most challenging translation fields. Yet, understanding the challenges is the way to overcome the difficulties. Here are some of the primary challenges facing medical translation today.


The world of medicine is full of specializations, cardiology, dermatology, oncology, pediatrics and so on. While most medical translators are required to possess specific kind of experience in the medical field, they may not be well-versed in each and every area.

Medical translation professionals and companies need to leverage the knowledge offered by subject matter experts, having a few specialists on call. It helps greatly reduce and even completely eliminate 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

Communication varies depending on the scenario. Translators have to determine the likely line of communication before starting the process. Distinguishing the target audience, tailoring the content appropriately and complying with regulations such as doctor-patient confidentiality are indispensable steps in the translation process. Having due diligence is the only way to overcome the communication barrier.


It is understandable that specific medical terminology may seem bewildering to the people outside of the profession. Medical translators sometimes find themselves clueless about the content. To overcome this challenge, translation providers must have  experts or specialists on call for guidance and choose the professional translators for the project who possess substantial experience in the medical field. Elite Asia’s experienced translators maintain a large terminology database of their industry, allowing them to speed up the translation process with high consistency and accuracy of the terminology.


There are a handful of the challenges that plague medical translation. Yet, being aware of these challenges is half the problem solved. Conducting a thorough review of the translation process and identifying problem areas with experts are vital to generate sound translation and avoid fatal errors.

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Why Professional Translation is Necessary

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