What Are The Different Types Of Medical Translation Services?

Medical translation services and medical interpreting services are in demand worldwide more than ever before, as the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated over the last two and a half years. There are many reasons for this other than a single pandemic and equally, there are many different types of both medical translation and interpreting. This makes the medical translation and interpreting industries an increasingly attractive career choice for graduates. It also makes it increasingly important for businesses and institutions related to the medical field to understand the critical relevance of medical translation and to know how to select the most appropriate professional translation and interpreting services to meet their requirements. A brief description of the variety of medical translation and interpreting services available follows below. 

The different types of medical translation 

1. Medical translation types in a hospital setting

It should be obvious that a large part of the medical translation services required will be in the context of a hospital. The variety of ways in which translation is required is immense. 

Medical technology, for example, is a worldwide commodity, and instrumentation and equipment may be manufactured in many different countries, each of which may have a different official language. Instrumentation and equipment bought and imported from a country other than where the hospital system is located may necessitate accurate and complete translation of instructions for use, including maintenance and installation when languages differ.

Drugs used in hospital procedures may also originate in many different countries. Medical professionals in the hospital setting together with hospital-based pharmaceutical services depend on accurate and informative medical translation of drug descriptions including correct handling procedures, storage, dosage, and application for use.

Many hospitals now experience patient visitation by people who may not be able to speak or understand the main language used in that hospital. Migration and refugee intakes have increased in many more affluent countries over the last two decades or more, meaning that medical instructions and information conveyed to patients must be carefully communicated if these patients and their carers or families are to understand diagnoses, surgical procedures, and choices, medication use and other post-hospital instructions. This is where medical translation services are required to allow equality of access to sufficient medical care irrespective of ethnic or language origin. In some countries, such as the U.S. this equality of care is enshrined in law.

2. Medical interpreting services 

Medical translation involves the conversion of text from one language to another. A good example in the medical context is the translation of a new MRI scanning machine manual from German to English. Medical interpreting services, in the hospital context, on the other hand, relate to converting what people say from one language to another. Where hospitals expect to provide medical services to a multi-lingual community, the demand for medical interpreters capable of communicating information between health professionals in the hospital and their patients is an ongoing necessity. 

In some countries, such as Switzerland, Malaysia, and India, where there are many different languages spoken amongst the inhabitants, there is an apparent ongoing need for effective medical interpreting. This is also the case where there has been an increase in refugee or migrant populations who may need to use the services of a hospital.

3. Types of medical translation – General 

There are many other types of medical translation that are not necessarily bound to the hospital environment. These include the translation of the following:

  • academic journals;
  • clinical trial documentation and protocols;
  • market research;
  • medical documents;
  • patents;
  • patient brochures and websites;
  • prescription labels;


Those who manage and maintain medical facilities of all types know that choosing a medical translator or interpreter should not be taken lightly. These services should be the preserve of well-trained and experienced professional translators and interpreters who specialize in the medical field.

What Are Medical Reports and Why Do They Need to be Translated?

What are medical reports?

Medical reports are hugely important, so if there is a need to provide them in a country other than the one where they were issued and where the official language is different, then medical report translation will be needed.

Medical reports are made up of individual medical records as well as more general data and statistics that could be anything from an analysis of regional and national health outcomes to research and development of new treatment options, vaccines, and drugs.

Why you might need individual medical record translation

When it comes to individuals, medical reports tend to be called medical records. Ideally, they should be continuous, and therefore give a history of the health of the individual. If there have been any illnesses that had to be treated or injuries that had to be dealt with, these should be included in the individual’s medical records. These may include assessments by doctors, records of hospital admissions, the results of any tests and scans, diagnoses of any serious illnesses, medication prescribed, ongoing prognosis, and potential long-term medical needs.

Generally, these medical records are compiled in the language of the country where the individual has lived for most of the time, but people do move around from one country to another, for education, permanent migration, employment, and as refugees. When the individual does move to another country, medical records can be very useful in the event that treatment is required. In many cases, visas for lengthier periods of stay or permanent migration may depend on submitting medical records. Typically, this is a medical examination that may need specific tests such as for T.B., syphilis, etc.

In more recent times, vaccination records against Covid-19 have been of importance for individuals when visiting another country. Again, medical document translation in the form of vaccination data may be necessary. Covid-19 vaccination status is currently going through a dynamic situation, but there are other vaccinations that may be mandatory such as Yellow Fever vaccinations if visiting Africa or South America.

Why you might need medical reports and documents translation

Most people are aware of just how important international cooperation between national health departments, medical researchers, individual doctors, and medical specialists is. An enormous amount of medical information is created every month by a variety of individuals, government departments, private health entities, corporations that specialize in providing drugs and pharmaceutical products, and medical instruments and appliance manufacturers. Although intellectual property rights and corporate needs to copyright and patent their products tend to minimize the sharing of ideas, in general, much of the data and information released by all those sources listed above does in fact get circulated around the world. When it comes to many new medical innovations and techniques for treatment, the best practice is to share discoveries and ensure that tests and experiments used in one country are repeated and assessed elsewhere. Medical reports tend to be predominantly scientific and technical in nature. Science proceeds cautiously, relying on testing and then more testing until hypotheses and predictions become accepted when results are consistent. International cooperation is a must in all fields of medicine and public health. This of course means that sharing of information in the form of medical reports and documents of all kinds relies on medical report translators to accurately convert information from one language to another.


Medical report translation and medical document translation is an often overlooked yet hugely important activities. This field of translation demands very accurate translations, not just in terms of language fluency but translators must have a good foundation in medical terminology if their translation work is to be of any use. It is vital that a professional medical report translation agency is used to do any medical translation tasks.