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Accuracy: Why do (or should) clients care about it and how do we keep our edge sharp?

Accuracy: Why do (or should) clients care about it and how do we keep our edge sharp?

I don’t have to tell you that the stakes in our field are uniquely high. This responsibility places a heavy burden on our shoulders.

It's a familiar tune, I know, but bear with me.

Why do (or should) clients care about accuracy?

  • Patient health and safety: Accurate translations ensure that patient care instructions, medication dosages, and medical device manuals are understood correctly, reducing the risk of adverse health outcomes. Clients (should) acknowledge that accuracy directly correlates to the safety and efficacy of treatments provided to patients.

  • Regulatory compliance: The medical industry is heavily regulated globally, with strict requirements for documentation, labeling, and patient information. Clients need translations to comply with regulatory standards across different countries to avoid legal and financial risks such as marketing authorization rejection or the withdrawal of products from markets.

  • Reputation and trust: Clients such as pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers, and medical device manufacturers need to build trust with their patients, partners, and regulators. A single error in translation can lead to public relations crises and a loss of consumer confidence.

  • Market expansion and global reach: Accurate translations enable clients to communicate with and serve global markets effectively. For clients looking to expand, precision is indispensable for entering new markets, adhering to local regulations, and engaging with a diverse customer base. Inaccuracies can hinder these efforts, lead to product recalls, or even ban from crucial markets.

  • Economic implications: Inaccuracies in medical translations can have severe economic consequences, including the cost of correcting errors, legal liabilities, and lost sales due to damaged reputation or regulatory non-compliance. Clients (should) know that investing in high-quality, accurate translations upfront can save significant costs and prevent revenue losses in the long run.

  • Patient experience and engagement: For healthcare providers, accurate translations are essential for patient education, informed consent, and engagement. They ensure that patients understand their health conditions, treatment options, and care instructions, leading to better health outcomes and adherence to treatment, as well as higher patient satisfaction scores.

So, how do we keep our edge sharp?

  • Never stop learning: The medical field is constantly evolving, and so must we. Diving deep into new terminologies and concepts and understanding their nuances—it's all part of our growth. Stay updated with medical terminologies and concepts, understanding their context deeply.

  • Recognize cultural differences: One of our primary roles is to adapt to cultural nuances that may affect accuracy, especially when dealing with patient materials. The words we translate touch lives in deeply personal ways.

  • Use reliable resources: Using authoritative sources to back our translations isn't just good practice; it's our lifeline. Leverage peer-reviewed literature, databases, and glossaries to verify terms and concepts.

  • Implement Quality Control tools: From CAT software to automated tools, the combination of cutting-edge technology and human insight enables a comprehensive Quality Assurance workflow that ensures the accuracy and consistency of translated materials.

  • Double-check: A second (or even third, whenever possible) set of eyes can catch what ours might miss in the quest for perfection. Ensure that your work is reviewed to catch potential errors.

  • Stay in touch: Keeping the lines of communication open with our clients ensures that we're all on the same page—literally and figuratively. Work closely with clients to understand the context, background, and specific requirements, asking questions when in doubt.

It’s clear that the essence of our work is rooted deeply in accuracy. These strategies are practical steps that must be integrated into our daily workflow.

Think about it—the difference a single word can make in our line of work is staggering. For example, I remember this one time when a slight misinterpretation in an informed consent form resulted in contradictory instructions, potentially leaving the participants with no idea how they should take the study medication.

Accuracy is not just about adhering to professional standards.

Every word we translate, every term we clarify, and every cultural aspect we adapt contribute significantly to the broader objective of protecting lives and ensuring the best possible outcomes for patients worldwide.


What do you think?

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts and experiences.

Whatever your strategies, challenges, or triumphs, I’d love for you to share them!

Your insights could greatly benefit others in our field.

Looking forward to your contributions!


Ana Sofia Correia - Medical Translator and Writer

Thank you for reading this issue of Perspectives on Medical Translation & Writing!

Ana Sofia


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Every translated document and crafted piece is a step
towards a healthcare world where language does not limit access to quality care.

Together, we're working towards an environment where accurate, clear, and
culturally sensitive information is available to all, making "lost in translation" a thing of the past.

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