January 9, 2003 - The front page of the Wall Street Journal today as well as a story from Reuters Wire Service on Monday detailed the serious problem the medical community is facing in translating and interpreting what doctors order, prescribe and diagnose.
Liz Elting, President and CEO of TransPerfect Translations, one of the world's leading translation companies says, "Obviously, this is a very serious problem. I have seen terrible and even life-threatening mistakes. Take for example the English word 'once' on a prescription that indicates taking a drug once a day. In Spanish, 'once' means eleven."
Elting continues, "The problems come from the translators or interpreters the medical community uses. When translating, you must have an expert not only in the language but also in the subject matter, in this case the field of medicine. The translator has to do more than just translate words in a literal manner. We do work for some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world translating booklets included with prescription medicines and, needless to say, the booklets must be perfect. The translators we use are thoroughly screened for their language knowledge, their medical knowledge, and their accuracy. You can't just use a bright language student or a doctor's assistant who may be bilingual - if you do, you are putting the patient at risk."
Eliting concludes, "There are other methods that hospitals and doctors can use, including seminars, a call-in service with an experienced medical translation company, and creating a glossary to give both staff members and patients a bilingual reference document for commonly used medical terminology."
With revenue of over $250 million, TransPerfect is the largest privately held language services provider in the world. From offices in 66 cities on 5 continents, TransPerfect offers a full range of services in over 100 languages to multinationals worldwide. With a global network of over 4,000 linguists and subject-area specialists, TransPerfect is the largest translation company to be fully ISO 9001:2008 and EN 15038:2006 certified. TransPerfect is headquartered in New York and has regional headquarters in London and Hong Kong. For more information, please visit our website at www.transperfect.com.