Health & Fitness

Key Challenges in Medical and Healthcare Translation

September 30, 2019

Each kind of translation can be demanding, but medical translation is one of the most challenging, as it requires in-depth knowledge from the translator.

Medical translation is essential in conveying not only medical knowledge but also current developments in the field. Medical translation services support not only companies and patients but also the specialists working to ensure people’s wellness and safety. It is also crucial in granting healthcare utilities to minority groups and foreigners.

Here’s a list of the key challenges in medicine and healthcare translation:

Medical language

On top of the primary challenges faced by any translator in medical translation services is that it’s a very specialized industry. Along with that are the different mannerisms of a specialized language that not everyone can understand. It will not matter if it’s the name of an infection, treatment, or medication.

Once a term is unique to the industry and never casually used outside, there is a possibility that not even the best translator has not encountered the word before. As a result, they will find it difficult to document if they do not have a background in medicine. Furthermore, failing to translate accurately may result in fatal errors.

Translating drug names

Besides translating disorders and conditions, translators may confront a variety of challenges when attempting to translate prescription medication. Brands and generics, for instance, could have specialized names that help to distinguish them from where they are marketed.

However, if the World Health Organization has not assigned them generic names yet, translators will have difficulty translating them according to the country of distribution.

Abbreviations and word compounding

You can come across several acronyms and abbreviations in the medical field. English is most often the lingua franca in the pharmaceutical sector, but most of these acronyms and abbreviations are derived from other languages.

While the healthcare sector commonly uses these terms in English for medical purposes, the equivalent phrases, however, might have some linguistic adjustments when translated into a different language.


Eponyms such as Tourette syndrome, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Asperger’s syndrome are significant components of the medical language. These are words acquired from the names of doctors, parts of human anatomy, illnesses, medical equipment, symptoms, or medical treatments.

Eponyms pose several translation concerns, as the words and their counterparts in another language may also be eponymous. It can be complicated if the original or target language is eponymous, whereas the equivalent is of Latin or Greek origin. There are also instances where eponymous words may also have duplicates in the same vocabulary.

Medical translation providers persist in being a significant platform for individuals of all races to comprehend medical terminology. Without the skills of medical translators, it would be impossible for monolingual individuals to diversify their comprehension of worldwide public health concerns. Additionally, while medical translation poses a variety of challenges unique to the pharmaceutical industry, this issue can be resolved by making sure that medical translators have a background in the medical field.

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