First, do no harm
Blog post by Elvira.
If you will ever consider doing medical translations, please consider the above, and let me tell you a story.
Every now and then, the three of us translate diagnostic documentations for people who are very ill and seek medical care abroad. Sometimes we are lucky enough to translate their release forms with optimistic prognoses. And every now and then we retranslate texts that were translated so poorly the doctors couldn’t make heads or tails of the actual illnesses.
It’s not a pretty and glamorous job. It’s hard and it turns you inside out and upside down in just a few short hours, and nobody enjoys translating such documents, just as we don’t enjoy translating legal documents about human trafficking, domestic violence or child abuse. But we brace ourselves and do it, because we know we can do it better than a non-specialised translator.
As you might know, the medical professionals are bound to a code of ethics that, in a few short words, says they should put the patient’s wellbeing above all other considerations. So should you, fellow translator.
More than in any other field of translations, you are working for a person who’s going through the worst time in their life, probably.
Do not, if you don’t specialize in medical translations, translate such documents, not even for your family. Find them the best medical translator, because you know what a good translation is worth. If money is a problem, help them financially.
If that is impossible, take your time and do your research. It is tough, and it will take time, and you will have to read some pretty traumatizing stuff, look at grim pictures or watch gory surgery videos. It will take a toll on you, I can promise you that.
However, always keep in mind that you are there to help someone, and your first commandment should be, just as for the doctor treating that person, to, first, do no harm.