The Translation of Discharge Information 101

If only an apple a day kept the doctor away. Dealing with any type of medical issue, big or small, can add stress and discomfort to a patient’s life. Even worse though is when a patient can’t understand their discharge information, which is a vital part of physician-patient communication. When a patient has a poor understanding of their discharge instructions, they may be negatively affected after leaving the hospital. This information is imperative for properly managing their diagnosis, medications, and follow-up appointments. Oftentimes non-English speaking patients (or those without high literacy levels) are the ones who struggle with understanding discharge information. The proper translation of discharge information can help provide patients with the best possible level of care. 

The Dangers of Misunderstood Discharge Information

When a patient can’t understand their discharge information, confusion and less than desired medical results can ensue. Even worse, this lack of understanding can lead to death. In 2015, a patient in Houston, Texas was discharged from a hospital and experienced a stroke. According to the lawsuit against the hospital, the stroke was caused because the hospital did not translate the patient’s discharge instructions into a language that the patient’s caretaker could read. Not only did this lack of proper communication harm the patient, but if the hospital loses the lawsuit they can expect to pay more than $200,000. One way or the other, both parties have been harmed. Because of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), healthcare providers are forbidden from discriminating against patients because of their “national origin”. Which means healthcare providers generally have to provide proper translation for patients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).

The Lack of Translation of Discharge Information

How common is a lack of proper linguistic access to discharge information for non-English speakers? More than it should be. A study by the University of California, San Francisco learned that patients with limited English proficiency demonstrated a weaker understanding of their discharge information regarding medications than their English-speaking counterparts. It was also found that only about half of hospitals translate discharge instructions properly. 

Some hospitals only provide select access to discharge materials in languages aside from English. They may translate standard discharge instructions for a few common illnesses, but the materials aren’t personalized for each patient. Which means the discharge materials aren’t addressing those patients’ individual needs such as medication dosing or accounting for a combination of health conditions. While some hospital staff interpreters will provide patients with oral discharge information, they don’t necessarily provide written instructions the patient can reference at home. Only professional translators should handle written translation as they specialize in that skill, it is not something an interpreter is trained for. 

Why the Translation of Discharge Information is So Difficult

Generic discharge information handouts are not the solution and neither are oral instructions. Medical facilities should provide access to written hospital discharge instructions in the language spoken and read by the patient. Most hospitals have a written translation policy for select hospital documents like consent forms, but discharge instructions are not guaranteed at every hospital. 

Machine translation is another flawed solution. Machine translation options, such as Google Translate, that may be available to medical professionals can lead to errors. Complicated instructions and medical jargon can be difficult to translate properly using machine translation. Only a skilled medical translator who is familiar with both languages can safely translate this type of medical information. 

It is possible for hospitals to partner with a translation service provider. While they won’t work from the hospital premises, hospitals and translation service providers can come to an agreement that guarantees quick turnarounds. Time is generally the most pressing challenge of translating discharge information, as a patient can’t wait for their discharge information, so it’s important to arrange a translation timeline that works for both parties

The Importance of Language Access During the COVID-19 Pandemic

During this difficult time, one small source of comfort is knowing that we are all in this together. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting communities from around the world and it is important that we work across borders to beat this pandemic. Knowledge is playing an indisputably important role in overcoming the health and financial challenges that have arisen because of COVID-19. In order to share the knowledge that will help us progress past COVID-19, it is more pressing than ever before that we break down language barriers. This is why. 

To Enact Proper Safety Measures

Our current landscape is changing rapidly right now and it is important that both individuals and business owners have access to the latest safety information and regulations in their native languages. In regions where many languages are spoken, this is especially necessary. For example, in Orange County, CA, confusion occurred when new ordinances regarding social distancing and business regulations were announced. A poorly worded message was partly to blame for the mass confusion, but a language barrier was another reason there was a lack of understanding across the Orange County community.

Orange County officials are attempting to remedy the situation by introducing updates in more languages, but the initial confusion caused fear and concern. For everyone to do their part in maintaining safety regulations and slow the spread of COVID-19, access to properly translated materials is vital. As the United States in general has a population that speaks many languages, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a Language Action Plan that they recommend for scenarios like this. The plan suggests providing access to vital information in 19 different languages in order to properly confront a crisis.

To Make Progress Together

Alongside the countless individuals working to slow the spread of COVID-19, there are many researchers aiming to find a vaccine or medication for treatment. As always, it is important that medical researchers have access to the latest advancements. The translation of medical research is of the utmost importance for increasing our ability to work towards vaccines and treatments more efficiently. 

Typically, English is considered the go-to language for the medical community, but increased language access to COVID-19 research could help us make progress quicker. With proper translation, researchers can share updates on the outcomes of social distancing, expected health care costs, disease trends, best treatments and care plans, and risk factors. Patients will also require access to translated materials such as pharmaceutical packaging and instructions for use. 

To Strengthen Communities

It is clear now, more than ever before, how important a strong sense of community is. If members of a community do not feel like they have access to the resources they need and are not being assisted, this could damage the strength of a community. Working together can only happen if we all feel united and valued. Proper language access during the COVID-19 pandemic is an important step towards strengthening the bond of a community.

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The Translation of Instructions for Use (IFU): A Breakdown 

Every member of the medical profession should first and foremost prioritize patient safety. One such way to be successful at protecting patient safety is to dedicate resources to the proper translation of “instructions for use” (IFU). Essentially, the term IFU refers to the patient labeling found on many prescription medicines and medical devices. The manufacturer of the drug develops the patient label. But the FDA (a United States government agency) is in charge of approving it. IFUs are especially important when a medication has complicated dosing instructions and the patient may need help using the product properly.

As we live in an increasingly global world, medical device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies will require assistance with the translation of IFUs into other languages. Quality translation not only improves patient safety, but helps get medical devices and medications approved for distribution throughout a variety of regions. 

Why IFUs Matter

From a consumer standpoint, IFUs are of the utmost importance. The information included in an IFU helps provide the proper use of a medication or device, as well as any necessary precautions. The FDA requires that medication guides, such as IFUs, come with certain medical products. Usually they do so when they’ve determined that: 

  • The consumer requires specific information to prevent serious adverse effects.
  • A patient has the right to be aware of serious side effects before deciding to use this product.
  • Proper usage of the product is essential to its effectiveness.

Medication guides, including IFUs, must be given to consumers each time the medication is dispensed. It is worth noting that not all medications will provide an IFU. If a consumer ever has questions about a medication, it is best that they consult a healthcare provider or pharmacist. 

Where Translation Helps

Now, looking from a business standpoint, European regulations can provide an example of the importance of translating IFUs. The translation of an IFU is necessary for sale in Europe. Medical products in Europe must have a CE Mark. This mark guarantees that the safety and authenticity of a product is verified and translated properly. 

A CE Mark allows a manufacturer to sell a product throughout the EU. In order to obtain that mark, all materials (such as an IFU) are translated into each of the 24 official languages of the European Union. In Europe in particular, all products must have a CE Mark which enables manufacturers and traders to commercialize them in the European Economic Area (EEA). 

The Future of IFUs

The standards for medical professionals and products evolves and adapts over time. The digital age is of course having an effect on patient safety regulations. Those who wish to market their products in the European Union should prepare for the emergence of the eIFU (electronic information for use) in 2020. The aim of the new eIFU requirements is to increase medical device safety and effectiveness by providing users with the most current information. An eIFU can include video and audio files which will make it easier to demonstrate how to operate and handle medical devices. eIFUs will allow companies to bring revisions or changes to the market faster. This extra content will require translation services to ensure all consumers can understand a video or audio file. 

New regulations will be in place in 2020 that medical device manufacturers in the European Union need to prepare for. Manufacturers should be prepping for the change now, including getting ahead on any translation needs.

Translation of Informed Consent Forms: An Introduction

Clinical trials are undoubtedly important. Without them, little scientific or medical progress would be possible. But even more important than the trials themselves, is the welfare of the human participants. They are an integral part of the clinical trial process. Their rights and wellness should always be a priority. One way to ensure all participants are fairly treated, is through the proper translation of informed consent forms. 

What is an Informed Consent Form?

An informed consent form is a requirement, not an option. A human can not partake in the research process during a clinical trial without signing one. These forms obtain a participant’s consent to participate and inform them of their rights. A participant should expect to find the following information on an informed consent form in a clearly described and understandable way.

  • A summary of the procedure or study.
  • The purpose of it.
  • The duration and schedule.
  • Expected procedures.
  • Potential benefits and risks.
  • Alternatives to participating.
  • The rights and responsibilities of those involved (the participant, study administrators, sponsors, etc.).

The requirements of an informed consent form ensure that a subject’s participation is voluntary. Informing participants about all aspects of the trial required both ethically and legally. 

Informed consent forms consist of two parts. One part is the information sheet that includes the aspects outlined above. The second part is the certificate of consent. Participants receive a copy of their informed consent form and information sheet. 

Where Does Translation Come In to Play?

Ensuring all research participants are properly informed of what a medical study entails is vital, or else you risk violating a participant’s rights. Being prepared to overcome language barriers can be necessary to ensure no violations occur. A language barrier or poor translation efforts can derail a clinical trial. A barrier can also harm a participant. Particularly if they do not understand what they are agreeing to.   

The proper translation of informed consent forms is a more pressing need than ever before due to the increase in medical research conducted in developing countries. These locales are often chosen as the site of clinical trials because they offer reduced costs. As well as access to affected populations who may benefit from the trial. For some, these trials are the only access to medical care they have. 

What is at Risk?

These trials can lead to new treatments, vaccines, and medications. But they can also violate the ethical rights of the at-risk populations found in developing countries. These violations can occur in first world countries too. Particularly, in locations like the United States where different cultures and languages frequently mix. Working with a seasoned translation expert can help avoid these violations and contribute to the success of a clinical trial.

It is not appropriate to exclude a participant due to their inability to read or understand a particular language. Doing so violates the governing principles of human subject research. Respect for persons, beneficence, and justice. Researchers must communicate directly with a subject or provide a trustworthy alternative to ensure they understand their rights, risks, and what their participation will entail. 

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The Translation of Medical Documents into Spanish & Its Challenges

When it comes to languages, Spanish is a global powerhouse. Over 442,000,000 people around the world speak Spanish. There are 20 states and territories that consider it the majority language. In these territories, Spanish is the language children learn in school. And the language of official documents. In the United States, the Spanish language is also prevalent. Despite not being the official language. Spanish is the most predominant language spoken by immigrants and U.S.-born Limited English Proficiency (LEP) individuals. With 64% of the total LEP population speaking Spanish. Considering these vast numbers and the regulations regarding health care accessibility for everyone, it comes as no surprise that there is a growing need for the translation of medical documents into Spanish. The needs of medical translation are various, but when translating from English to Spanish and vice versa, medical translators must be prepared to solve a number of challenges that may arise. These are a few of them:

Medication and Drug Names

One of the first missteps in the translation of medical documents into Spanish is confusing medication and drug names. Names can easily be mixed up because drug and medication names used locally are different than internationally. Both brand and generic drugs can have names specific to the country in which they are sold. For example, acetaminophen is a name used in the United State for what is internationally known as paracetamol.

Mistranslating names can lead to dire consequences. Especially when it comes to dosing. Scarily, the FDA estimates more than one million people each year experience physical harm from medication misuse. This is why translating medical text requires a specialized translator trained to deal with medical vocabulary.

Units of Measurement

Even without the need for translation, measurement mistakes are easy to make. Parent medication administration error rates is an example of this issue. More than 40% of parent administrators make dosing errors involving oral liquid medications. Units of measure conversions can be difficult, so linguists have to be very careful when translating them. In some scenarios, conversions are necessary. Other times it is okay to leave the unit of measurement as is. In general, medicine and science utilize the metric system as it is more accurate. Hispanic countries also use the metric system, but U.S. citizens more commonly use non-metric units. It is of the utmost importance that medical translators are aware of who the target audience is (general population or scientists, for example) and the system used in particular countries.This helps them determine whether conversions are necessary or not.

New Terminology

The medical field is ever changing. Progress is a good thing, except when it causes misunderstandings. Occasionally, there is not a recognized translation for a certain term. It is challenging for bilingual dictionaries to keep up with new concepts, technology, research, and medical terms. Many bilingual English-Spanish medical dictionaries are direct translations from English. They don’t always take into account the actual terminology used in the target language. 

Translators also have to be wary of what is known as “false friends”. These are words that sound very similar and appear to be the equivalent of two words in different languages. The word “severe” is an example of a false friend. Severo is a term in Spanish which means ‘strict, tough, harsh in treatment or punishment’ and describes the character of a person. But this word is easily confused with “severe”. A word that can have many meanings, such as grave, intense, or strong. Such as a severe pain, a severe blow to the head, or a severe problem. The English word “condition” serves as another example. In Spanish the word for condition can vary depending on the usage intended. When the word “condition” refers to a defective state of health, it is translated as enfermedad. When it refers to a particular state someone or something is in, it is translated as estado or situación. But at first glance, the Spanish word condición sounds like the proper word.

How Medical Translators Can Improve Accuracy

It is important that the medical translator keeps in mind the limitations of scientific and medical dictionaries. Some may find it necessary to purchase additional medical dictionaries to create a comprehensive knowledge base. Furthermore, skilled medical translators must read the latest journals and scientific papers to properly understand the current medical landscape, as well as recognize and translate new terms.

Localization of Medical Software: A Global Need

Safety first. When it comes to patient welfare, safety is always the goal. Which is why the localization of medical software is a topic worth discussing. In the context of medical software, localization refers to adapting the strings of text in computer software to different languages, regional peculiarities, and technical requirements of a target locale. Medical software influences a patient’s health. A fault or bug in the code can put a patient at risk. But risks can also stem from a lack of proper translation of the languages used for medical device software. With more than 1.5 million medical devices available in the homes, medical offices, and hospitals, there is ample need for the localization of medical software.

Where Medical Device Regulations Come Into Play

Medical software aids in decisions that affect patient care. It is vital that manufacturers build their software to meet medical device standards. Meeting those standards is not mandated, but will help ensure companies build software safely. Developing software with medical device standards will save you time and money if at a point your software is considered a medical device. Tackling these standards up front instead of at a later date will be most beneficial.

What is Medical Device Software?

Some software programs are already considered medical devices, which come with their own set of regulations. The International Medical Device Regulators Forum (IMDRF) defines software that is a medical device as, “software intended to be used for one or more medical purposes that perform these purposes without being part of a hardware medical device.” Medical device regulators from across the globe came together as a part of IMDRF to determine the framework and principles that enable stakeholders such as regulators to protect patients and promote safe innovation.

Medical device software has to meet strict manufacturing standards that help ensure quality. These standards vary by country. In the United States the FDA and HIPPA set these standards. In Europe and Canada the standards are set by the ISO and IEC commissions.

What is Not Medical Device Software?

Not all software programs utilized in making medical devices are regulated by medical device standards. For example, software that controls a medical device isn’t considered to be an actual medical device. Other examples include software that relies on data from a medical device, but which does not have a medical purpose. Software used to enable medical workflow such as scheduling patient visits. And software used to monitor performance and functioning of a medical device.

Why the Localization of Medical Software Matters

Even if a software is not seen as a medical device, the localization of medical software is of vital importance. Not only on the safety side, but the business side as well. In order to market a medical device and its accessories in a foreign market, companies must remain compliant with any international and local regulations. Instruction for use, packaging, labeling, and manuals must be presented in the national language of each country it is registered.

Typically, user interface translation is one of the key areas of translating medical device software, as any language confusion while using medical software can have perilous results. The FDA and the European Medical Device Directive are extending their purview to medical software. This is to ensure that medical software functions correctly. As well as to help users and health care providers know how to use the software in its intended way in each territory.

Translation of Pharmacovigilance Documentation

A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. But what makes the medicine work? That’s a process that pharmacovigilance aims to improve. Pharmacovigilance is a facet of patient care. One that aims to utilize medicine and data in the best way possible. To treat and prevent diseases. It is also a field that requires high quality translation services in order to ensure the proper translation of pharmacovigilance documentation.

What Is Pharmacovigilance?

Pharmacovigilance deals with the detection, understanding, assessment, and prevention of adverse effects. As well as other medicine-related problems. The World Health Organization outlined three main goals of pharmacovigilance:

  1. The rational and safe use of medical drugs.
  2. The assessment and communication of the risks and benefits of drugs, on the market.
  3. Educating and informing of patients.

Pharmacovigilance is a critical part of the pharmaceutical and health-care industries. It aids continuance, drug approval, and the ability to safely promote the use of their products. And it allows medical practitioners to better communicate their knowledge while practicing. It is also the source of all drug safety information and education for patients and the general public.

This undeniably important discipline has a tough job to do. The nature of the issues they are dealing with are undesirable, particularly when it comes to pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Adverse events inevitably arise and the reporting of these events is necessary in order to create valid pharmacovigilance programs. Ideally, these programs identify undesired events before public health is affected by them.

Public health spreads wide. Across many regions and languages. Which is why there can be no language barriers in the reporting process of these events. The adverse events are reported in the local language, but proper translation will allow these reports to do more good across more groups of people.

Who Needs Pharmacovigilance Information

Primarily, medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, clinical research organizations, and other outsourcing partners such as language translation organizations like Terra Translation are interested in pharmacovigilance.

When is the translation of pharmacovigilance documentation needed? Pharmacovigilance databases often require translation from a range of languages into English and vice-versa. Adverse effect reporting, adverse drug reaction databases, and documents related to these subjects generally need translation.

Why Access Matters

 Health and wellness are the primary reasons why it is important pharmacovigilance information is readily available to anyone who desires it. Pharmacovigilance can only work successfully if information is shared in a timely fashion. Which is where the world wide web comes to the rescue.

 The internet has made this information more accessible than ever before. Any concerned party can obtain information about an adverse event online. The ease of access is good. The risk of misunderstandings due to translation errors is not. If the reader does not have access to a properly translated document, then misinformation can spread. Which is highly dangerous. Medical organizations, regulatory agencies, pharmaceutical firms, medical device firms, and the public all need access to properly translated pharmacovigilance information. Translation errors can have dangerous results. Which can cause harm to the public and unnecessary expenses on behalf of stakeholders. Working with a qualified language services provider can help mitigate the risk of mistranslation.

The Translation of Medical Patents: An Introduction

Now, more than ever, we live in a globally connected world. Thanks to technology, progress and collaboration opportunities feel limitless. Language barriers don’t even exist anymore, with the services of professional translations available. Translation services are utilized in every area of the medical field. From medical devices to clinical trials. The translation of medical patents is yet  another area of the medical field that translators touch.

What are medical patents?

Traditionally, a patent is a legal instrument that gives the patent holder exclusive rights for making, selling, or offering to sell the subject matter that the patent “claims”. More specifically, medical patents may relate to pharmaceuticals. This can include the methods of making and using them. As well as medical treatment regimens, surgical procedures, medical devices, and health care information technology.

What is the purpose of medical patents?

The primary goal of a medical patent, or any patent, is to provide a unique marketing advantage to the inventor. Another goal is to limit the usability of any aspect of the subject matter of the patent for a set amount of time. This assists the patentee in limiting their competition. The patent can stop competitors from making, using, or selling the item or process outlined in the patent. These protections help the filer of the patent maintain the value of their invention.

You may be wondering who utilizes medical patents. Biotech companies, physicians, and universities are some of the most common to do so. Medical patents allow them to protect their inventions from their competition temporarily. The patentee can take advantage of this time period to generate revenue. Which will ideally help make up for any incurred research and development costs.

There is another great benefit to medical patents. One consumers can appreciate as much as creators. After receiving a New Drug Application (NDA) the Food and Drug Administration tests any medical product applicants for safety and effectiveness. This is a rigorous approval process that requires clinical trials and compliance with an extensive approval process. This can be an expensive step of the process, but is a necessary one. 

The translation of medical patents

You can file an international patent application in many languages, as long as the receiving office accepts that language. If you choose to file your application in a language that the International Searching Authority (ISA) does not accept, you must provide the ISA with a translation of the application. The ISA is one of the world’s major patent offices and it identifies published patent documents and technical literature that can influence if your invention is patentable. If your chosen language is not available for consideration, you always have the option of submitting your patent in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. These languages are official “publication languages”. And all receiving offices must accept these languages. This is the step in the process in which you may require the translation of medical patents.

The cost of medical patents

The cost of filing a patent may be one of the biggest challenges you’ll face. And the translation of medical patents will incur an additional cost. If you’re filing your patent in multiple countries, this cost can mount as each country will have its own set of fees. Not to mention the inventor may have to hire translation services to translate the patent into different languages for different countries they file in. Between filing fees, translation costs, and paying a patent lawyer, filing can cost anywhere from $2,000 to more than $20,000. These costs feel steep, but they protect both the creator of the invention and the consumers who will be using it.

The security you receive from medical patents, and the translation of medical patents, is undeniable. By filing your patent in multiple countries, you protect your invention in those regions. Because the wording of a patent certificate is very complex, it is important to work with a highly skilled translator and a subject matter expert. You want to ensure the specific terminology and details of the patent are understood properly. If the quality of translation is low, you risk dire legal and financial consequences. Errors in translation can result in the ineligibility of the patent in some markets. Investing in quality translation services will help protect your invention and your finances. 

Pharmaceutical Packaging Translation

Pharmaceutical Packaging Translation: A Growing Global Need

Language touches every area of our lives. Words can gift hope and faith. Or they can start wars. There is no denying that language can mean life or death. Especially when it comes to the medical industry. Mistranslation of medical terminology, treatments, or a patient’s history is extremely dangerous. The pharmaceutical packaging market in particular has rapidly growing translation needs. By 2025, it’s estimated that the pharmaceutical packaging market will be worth $128 billion. For comparison’s sake, as of 2015, the market’s worth was almost $69 billion.

Where is Growth Coming From?

Why such a large increase in growth? To start, there is an increased global demand for medication in emerging economies. Combine that fact with an aging population, increase in chronic diseases, antimicrobial resistance, and strict medical regulations. The Latin America market alone is anticipated to experience a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.51% by 2022.

Where Translation Comes Into Play

Pharmaceutical packaging translation may not be an immediately apparent need. But when broken down, the amount of translation required is substantial. Not only do pharmaceutical labels need translation, but so do those hefty leaflets that come in the packing. All packages must include information on a pharmaceuticals’ name, strength, and form. Each will also contain a statement of active substances per dosage. As well as the method and route of administration. And of course, a warning to keep the product out of the reach of children.

All applicable warnings must be included, alongside the:

  • expiration date
  • special storage requirements
  • batch number
  • authorization number
  • disposal guidance
  • contact information for the marketing authorization holder
  • product’s name in braille

All of the above information must be written in the official languages of the country where the product is sold. Similar to medical devices, pharmaceutical products are regulated in most countries. Each having their own set of specific rules.

Canada is a prime example of what to expect when distributing pharmaceuticals in a country that has more than one national language. Because they have two official languages, English and French, pharmaceutical packaging translation is required to ensure both languages are present on required materials. Even if the drug is available for sale without a prescription, such as over the counter allergy medication. The EU requires Member States to make official languages clearly legible on packaging leaflets. In the EU, companies must comply with any guidelines enforced by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and its Committee for Human Medicinal Products (CHMP), as well as abiding by any local regulations.

Pharmaceutical Packaging Translation Solutions

Pharmaceutical packaging translation requires a professional native speaking translator with medical translation experience and knowledge. Word for word translations aren’t sufficient for medical translations. They require a complete comprehension of the subject matter. As well as the ability to communicate the true meaning of the text. Which is why it’s important to utilize specialist native translators who have the cultural and linguistic experience required to properly translate pharmaceutical packaging. 

These types of translators are more in demand than ever due to the large amount of pharmaceuticals shipped across countries and continents. Not only does proper translation enhance a patient’s safety, but it helps maintain compliance with any country-specific regulatory requirements.

In order to accommodate multiple languages on packages, you can consider utilizing modern labeling techniques that allow more space for multiple translations of vital information. There are tools available that allow you to print multiple languages on one label. Because the label wraps around the prescription bottle multiple times, it can replace a standard adhesive label without negatively affecting legibility, packaging size, or appearance.

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What is the Danger of an Incorrect Translation of Medical Records?

Caring for patients can come in many forms. And in many languages. For doctors to provide the best care possible to their patients, it is vital they have access to properly translated medical records. A patient’s medical records contain potentially lifesaving information about their medical histories. Let’s dig deeper into why the proper translation of medical records matters so much.

What Information Does a Medical Record Contain?

Not all medical records will contain the following information. In fact, some people have none to very little medical records at all. But generally, the information below may be found during the translation of medical records.

  1. Personal identification information: Such as their social security number or their government-issued identification number.
  2. Medical history: Their history may include past diagnoses, medical care records, allergies, and treatments they have received amongst other information.
  3. Family medical history: A patient’s family medical history can help draw attention to genetic health concerns.
  4. Medication history: Doctors need to know about any prescription, herbal, over the counter, and even home remedies that a patient may be taking or have taken in the past. 
  5. Treatment history: Knowing if a patient has received a treatment, and whether it was successful or not, is valuable information for a medical provider.
  6. Medical directives: While not all patients will have a medical directive on record, it is important to understand their directive clearly if they do. Generally this document is kept on file and details the medical wishes of a patient if they are unable to speak for themselves.

Why are Medical Records Important?

All of the information about a patient’s medical history that their record may contain are key pieces of their treatment puzzles. If any of the information in a medical record is mistranslated, patients are no longer receiving the care they deserve.

These records allow physicians and medical staff to better understand a patient’s medical history and their current diagnosis. Creating a topnotch treatment plan can also be aided by the complete translation of medical records. 

If a patient is not able to communicate clearly with their doctor, which can happen regardless of a language barrier, the results of treatment can be disastrous. An unknown allergy to a medication can cause fatality. And not knowing what treatments a patient’s body doesn’t respond to can be dangerous and waste precious time.

What Mistranslation Can Cause

One example of the dangers of mistranslating a medical record is an unfortunate story about an English woman living in Spain. Teresa Tarry was supposed to have surgery for a benign lump in 2007. Instead, she left surgery with 55% incapacity and believed she had a cancerous tumor. Weeks later she discovered that the lump was not actually cancerous. The doctors at A Coruna’s Abente y Lago hospital misinterpreted her medical records. A translation mistake led the doctors to believe Tarry had a family history of breast cancer. Even though there was no such history. Without a family history of breast cancer, there was no need for such aggressive preventative treatment. A small misunderstanding damaged the quality of her health and life forever.