5 mistakes in medical translation: Don't play with death

Published on 10/04/2023

Translating is one of the most rewarding jobs, but as in any discipline, it is essential to do it as well as possible. One of the most important bases of any translation is good communication and interpretation, so that there is a good understanding between the two parties. Not all translation jobs are as complex as others, and in some sectors, changes or misunderstandings of phrases, words or sentences can lead to major problems, many of which can have catastrophic effects.

Índice de contenidos

Index of contents

Index du contenu


  1. What is medical translation?
  2. Vital work for the medical sector
  3. Conclusions

1. What is medical translation?

Medical translation deals with the translation of documentation related to the pharmaceutical sector and the other elements that make up the health sector. We are talking about one of the sectors where the responsibility towards its customers is the highest, so the content in this industry is very sensitive and has to be carefully reviewed to avoid making mistakes.

If producing industry documentation in the local language is complicated in itself, translation into other languages is a process that is not done word for word, as the meaning of the source text must be taken into account and the various equivalents in the terminology used by the medical/pharmaceutical sector must be sought.

2. Vital work for the medical sector

In the medical translation sector, the work of translation experts is highly valued, as it is vital to use the words and technical vocabulary of the sector correctly. We know from experience that when it comes to medicine, it is not possible to make assumptions, changes, misinterpretations or changes to anything we are notified of.

Consider the dire consequences of mistranslation in the medical and healthsector, as it can end up being a factor on which a patient's medical and physical condition may depend.

Nowadays, there are many surprising cases of mistranslations in the medical field. Among them, some ended up causing great indignation, as they led to a number of serious problems for the patient, such as making a person quadriplegic, performing surgery incorrectly, changing the details of a prescription issued by a doctor, causing intoxication, etc.

As mentioned above, the errors of poor translation can end up causing:

  1. Botched surgeries and procedures.
  2. Changes in the medicines to be administered
  3. Misdiagnosis of the patient's clinical picture
  4. Misinterpretation of the dosage of the medicine that the patient should take
  5. Misinterpretations of allergies to certain medicines

A few years ago, experts determined that 50% of medical prescriptions or translations had a number of errors in the translations, some of which could have had fatal results. We believe that it is vital to have professionals with a high level of technical vocabulary knowledge in the field of medicine and health. This guarantees excellent communication from patient to doctor and vice versa.

3. Conclusions

We can conclude by saying that in our daily work as a translation agency we find it essential to stress that in order to avoid errors in medical procedures it is necessary to have professional translators who know the language, jargon and technical terms of the sector perfectly. Our translation company can handle all types of professional translations, including Spanish, English, German, Italian and Portuguese.

We take special care to establish a trusting and close relationship with our clients, as it is necessary to establish a fluid relationship of trust in order to achieve the desired objectives. To do this, personalised attention is essential and you can always count on us to provide advice where it is necessary.

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Virginia Pacheco's picture
Virginia Pacheco

Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.

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