Quality in Medical Translations: A Review

Despite a growing number of U.S. citizens who do not speak English fluently, little literature attends to issues of accurate translation of medical documents. We conducted a systematic review of the World Wide Web and electronic library resources to identify sources on translating clinical and medical research documents. We identified and carefully examined 44 relevant articles. Each article was coded with 5 to 10 key words that were used as a guide when we searched the articles for issues salient to assuring quality in medical translations. We divided these into two major categories, mechanics/practicalities of translating medical documents and extrinsic factors influencing medical translations. The results of this review confirm that medical translation is a complex process involving far more than mechanically converting one language to another. Attention to translation procedures can improve the quality of care for limited English proficient patients.