Medical translation: complexity and intricacies, or why you shouldn’t do it by yourself

How often in real life do you face the need to translate medical documents from a foreign language or into it? We hope it happens not very often (and it’s better if never!) However, sometimes it’s necessary. What should you do in such a case? To whom should you apply?

The first (and quite common) thought is: “I translate it by myself. It’s a simple certificate, and I know English (German, etc.) quite well.”

Advantages of such a decision are:

+ it’s free of charge

+ you might probably improve the language level because you’ll use Google translator multiple times



- the quality of translation is unlikely to be sufficient for doctors to understand the robust picture. And you don’t translate the certificate just for yourself.

- lack of professional medical terminology. And this is very important for the extended treatment: there are no nuances and trifles in medicine.


The second option is to apply to a translation agency.


+ professional medical translation with a guarantee of quality

+ translation is performed by linguists, and the subject specialist relating to medicine are involved

+ the previous point guarantees accurate and professional use of medical terminology

+ notarization of the translation (in most cases you will need it)



- it isn’t for free: )



It is understood that the health and life of a person depend on the quality and correctness of the translation! That’s why medical translation should be entrusted to professionals.



The most common personal medical records need to be translated from/into a foreign language are:

  • medical clearances;
  • medical history sheets;
  • epicrisis and clinical reports,
  • diagnostic and research results, tests, etc.



In which cases medical translation might be required?

  • Elective treatment in foreign health clinics and centers;
  • If an insured event occurs during a trip. Depending on the type of your insurance, you may have to bring home all medical records and receipts for refunding of expenses by the insurance company;
  • Sanatorium-resort therapy abroad



Also, we shouldn’t forget about the professional field of medical translations:

  • Medical equipment documentation (manuals, certificates, etc.);
  • Scientific medical translation (medical articles and publications, clinical trials);
  • Pharmacological documentation (certificate of pharmaceutical products, registration documents, product instructions, etc.)


In case of the professional documentation, self-translation is out of the question at all.

To translate such medical documentation, specialists should be competent not only in the target languages and medical topics but also, depending on the document, in the technical field, scientific researches, legal subject, etc.

That’s why for the translation of complicated medical records you should apply to translation agencies that involve all the necessary subject specialists in performing the tasks.