Translating Medical Guidelines

Translating Medical Guidelines

One of the most positive experiences I have had as a translator was in translating medical guidelines from English to Dutch. The process was incredibly difficult and complex, but it was oddly enjoyable at the same time.


Product Name

Sometimes, the product name should be translated, and sometimes it shouldn’t. The reason for this is that sometimes the specifics of the product name may or may not be translatable.

Medical Term Translation

Some medical terms might be unknown to both you and the translation software you are using, and defining these can be a fun, yet frustrating, process. For example, one of the more complicated sentences I translated had to do with arrhythmia alarm categories, which in Dutch roughly translate to aritmie alarm categoriën. Even though there is some similarity between the Dutch and English words, there is also a pitfall: sometimes you believe there are similarities when there aren’t, and sometimes you don’t believe that the translation is correct because it seems too obvious.

Proofreading Medical Guidelines

Another complicated aspect of medical translation is trying to proofread someone else’s work. The reason for this is that there are points that are still open for debate when it comes to the translation. Some people prefer to write in one style that differs from others, and this can make proofreading a challenge. For one of my translations, I had to proofread a sentence that had the word ‘remote control’ in both Dutch and English. While this isn’t incorrect in the Dutch language, the preferable word to use is afstandsbediening. The person whose work I was proofreading hadn’t used the preferred word, creating a dilemma for me.

QA for Medical Guidelines

Another task I perform is QA testing for translation companies. This process is intricate because, often times, multiple QA tests can be made at the same time. The same strings are always translated the same way the first QA was.

Translating medical guidelines helps you learn a lot about a specialized topic and opens up a lucrative career.

About Tim Oldenhuis

I’m a native Dutch translator living in the Netherlands. I translate for Coursera to help make education accessible for everyone. My interests are SEO, Gamification and Marketing. I translate website content and blogs, primarily from English and German into Dutch.


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