The Role of Translation in Medical Trials: Facts You Need to Know

Medical trials are complex and prolonged processes. They are already complicated enough for native speakers. When a language barrier is introduced, things get even more challenging. Making participants in a medical trial feel comfortable is of critical importance. At the same time, there are various legal implications to observe. That’s why you need to ensure that any translation work done in relation to your medical trials is flawless. And to achieve this, you must work with a competent medical translation agency.

Medical Trial Documentation Can Be Extremely Complex

The documentation for a medical trial is often really complex, even for people familiar with the field and the language. There is a lot of information to unpack as statements are usually condensed. There is little room for creativity because of this. Medical trial translations must be strict and to the point. This can sometimes make the translated work sound dry and monotonous. But that is a compromise you must be prepared to make for the sake of ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

Another reason for the complexity of medical trial documentation is that it’s often a constantly evolving document. You will very rarely deal with the final version of a certain document. Instead, you will constantly come back to make additional revisions as the trial progresses. This makes it important to work with a translation agency that’s familiar with this type of workflow.

Sometimes translators might have to refer to previous statements they have made in another document. That’s why working with a qualified agency is preferred. A single translator might quickly get lost in the myriad of documents that you would usually present them with.

Translators Must Be Aware of the Legal Implications of Their Work

There are also some serious legal implications of translating medical trial documentation. One of the major concerns when dealing with medical trial participants is ensuring that they are fully aware of all possible consequences of what they’re subjecting themselves to. Nothing can be omitted from the original document. Nothing can be restated in a way that changes its intended meaning. Language must be used in a straightforward and literal manner. Idioms and similar expressions are out of the question as they can introduce ambiguity.

You Will Often Work with Documents Undergoing Continuous Revision

As we mentioned above, medical trial documentation is often constantly evolving. You will find yourself coming back to revise old documents after each stage of the trial. That’s why this type of project is often an ongoing relationship with your translation agency. You must be sure that you can count on the services of the agency for at least a few months. That’s usually an optimistic estimate too. In some cases a project can last for several years.

Switching to a new medical translation agency can introduce various challenges. The new agency will have a lot of work before they can even start translating new documents. This makes it important to work with someone you know you can trust for the long term. Newly established translation agencies may be able to offer you attractive deals, but there’s often no way to verify how serious they are about their commitments.

There’s a Lot of Tricky Terminology to Cover

It’s no secret that medical terminology is quite complex. That’s why medical translation should be done by someone with specific experience in the field. While it’s theoretically possible for a generalist translator to look up the meaning of all special terms they’re using, this can slow them down significantly. And that would reflect on your final bill.

On the other hand, working with a specialized medical translation agency means that you will never have to deal with that problem. Not only that, but you will have some extra reassurance about the validity of their translation work and the way those terms are being used.

There’s No Room for Error

It should go without saying that there is absolutely no room for error in medical translation. One small mistake can often have dire consequences. Even if it doesn’t lead to any injury, it can still create various legal problems for you. Remember, at the end of the day, you’re the one that’s on the hook for the validity of all the documentation in your trial. That’s why you must know you can trust your translation agency.

Some translation agencies will go a step further. They will allow you to crosscheck their work with other translation specialists from the same agency. This might seem excessive, but when it comes to medical documentation and in particular trial documentation, it’s a good precaution to take.

You Have to Be Careful with Reusing Existing Documentation

You will often face opportunities to reuse existing documentation. While this can save you a lot of work, it must also be done with caution. You have to explicitly verify the validity of the information you’re using. This is related to the point we made above about continuously evolving documents. Of course, your translation agency should verify everything on their end too. But in the end, you’re the one that’s responsible for ensuring the validity of the documentation as we mentioned above.

We Are Here to Help

We understand how complex projects of this type can be. Our extensive experience in the healthcare sector makes us the perfect partner for work like this. The Language Doctors is a qualified medical translation agency with a lot of cumulative experience and a long line of satisfied customers. We’re constantly working with various healthcare organizations and institutions. Our experience is always growing. And when it comes to understanding modern medical terminology, you will hardly find a more competent translation agency on the market right now.

Closing Thoughts

If you’re preparing to conduct a medical trial and expect to work with patients with poor command of the English language, we recommend you start searching for a translation agency as early as possible. There are often lots of points to discuss in a project like this. You might not even be sure what kinds of questions you need to ask. That’s why we recommend you get in touch with us immediately and let us guide you through the whole process. All it takes is one call to get started!

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