The Right Way To Do Medical Translation

medical translations
By Nikita Agarwal
Director at Milestone Localization
April 10, 2020

Medical translation projects have unique requirements. The translation must be high quality, meet regulatory standards and have fast turnaround times. The life-or-death nature of medical translations makes it important to design the medical process in the right way. The only way to balance these goals is meticulous planning, careful resource allocation and efficient execution.


Using the right linguists is critical to the success of any translation job. When it comes to medical translation, resource screening and selection needs extra care. Ideally, the translator should be a native speaker of the target language with 5+ experience of experience in medical translations.

Most countries provide certifications for medical translators and interpreters who have completed courses and training. For example, in the USA, the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) or the National Board for Certified Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) provides certification in several language pairs.

It is also common for agencies to use bilingual students who are studying medicine and test them for proficiency and fluency before assigning projects to them

An excellent translator is essential to the success of a project. At Milestone, we carefully test and pick our medical translators, proofreaders and reviewers for total quality assurance at every part of the translation process.


The process needs to be meticulously planned and followed. Omitting a single step can affect the quality of the translation or delivery time. These are the main parts of the process:

Dedicated Project Manager: For a medical translation project, it is necessary to have a dedicated project manager who will be the single point of contact for the client to discuss and define the project scope. The project manager will detail the project to the entire team and co-ordinate with internal and external vendors.

Project Analysis: The source text is analysed to see if it needs to be internationalised and formatted before linguists can start working on it. The PM should create the correct workflow for the project based on file type and deadlines and assign it to the right linguist(s). 

Glossary Creation: A glossary of diacritics, DNT (do not translate) words, length constraints must be created by the PM and validated by the linguist.

Technology: At Milestone, we use the best CAT tools to leverage technology to improve quality, maintain consistency and shorten the turn around time.


Medical translations have the highest quality requirement. A wrong translation can derail a clinical trial or cause a doctor to give a patient the wrong diagnosis.

Depending on the nature of the document, the following checks should be in place:

Quality Assurance: Our QA process ensures that the file is run through 35+ quality checks parameters that are created based on specific project requirements.

Proofreading: Proofreading by a second linguist to check language, grammar, meaning and consistency

Back Translation: The document is translated back into the source language to check for discrepancies. This is an expensive and time consuming process and is usually done for clinical trials and critical research reports

Check by a SME: A subject matter expert (usually in target country) does the final checks on the document and makes sure all the technical information is translated correctly

To get an efficient and accurate translation for your medical documents, it is important to find a partner who has the right experience, knowledge and technology.

Milestone offers a range of language services for the healthcare industry including translation, transcription and interpretation. Contact us for a free consultation and quote for your next translation project.

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