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12 Jan General tips for translating a medical document

Any medical translation becomes a challenge even for the most experienced translator. So here are some tips that may help you in your daily work, specially for saving time and avoiding potential mistakes.

Useful tips for a medical translator

OCR

If the medical document is scanned, it would be very practical to use a OCR tool. Why? You will work with another electronic format easier to edit, as a Microsoft Word file. It is much better than starting to translate with this file rather than with a blank one, because you can copy-paste some information – as figures, names, addresses – and even use a CAT tool for making the most of your translation memories.

Abbreviations

In your budget, note that abbreviations are words that may require more time to be translated due to a previous documentation. A medical document might be full of abbreviations, and you will probably spend much more time translating 10 medical abbreviations than other 100 words. There are many useful abbreviations glossaries and dictionaries such as MediLexicon or Cosnautas, but also several mailing lists for contacting professionals.

Handwritten text

If you receive a handwritten medical document, take it into account before indicating a final budget (unless your rate is per hour). It will probably not be recognised by an OCR tool – as mentioned above – and, depending on the calligraphy, you may spend more time deciphering the text than translating it. What is written right there? Which is that word? And do not fear about asking the client if you can not understand what is written in your medical document.

Drug names

Do not translate drugs with an equivalent brand name which is only sold in the target country, even if they are both similar and you are sure than any hospital would prescribe any of them with no distinction. It is not your responsibility; you are a medical translator not a doctor. Just keep the original brand name and add INN (International Non-proprietary Name) in brackets afterwards: it would clarify the idea and avoid any hypothetical and further problem.

 

 

 

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