Medical translations for instructions for use
Yesterday a client asked me to translate the instructions for use (IFUs) for a biopsy system
. So far, my clients had only asked me for translations of general/educational texts about biopsy procedures, usually designed for patients, such as informed consent forms, etc., but I had never dealt with a specific document, intended for medical professionals. This one in particular looked really challenging, as it included all the terminology for system components, accessories and disposable parts.<.
The first step of a medical translation
As a first step, I asked the client if they had information material in Italian to use as a reference. But they did not reply promptly, so I began to fear that this was the very first time they ordered an English to Italian translation. What would I do then? The terminology was very specific, no traditional dictionary could help me. To give you an example, I had no idea about the Italian translation for 'holster'. In traditional technical-scientific English-Italian dictionaries, I only found 'fondina' (i.e. part of a pistol/gun).
So I started looking for reference materials published on-line by other leading manufacturers, but it was far from simple. These systems are not TV-sets or PC components, their instructions for use are not freely available for download. Under 'Documentation' in their Web sites, I only found contact forms, and, obviously, I could not contact competing manufacturers, as I was not a potential customer. What would I do then? I confess that I started to panic.
A sleepless medical translator
After an almost sleepless night, I set back to work, as determined as a medical translator can be. After several searches, I found the catalogue of one of the main manufacturers, with item codes. Searching for the same codes in Italian, I found out that tender specifications of Italian hospitals were freely accessible on-line, because Local Health Units are obliged to publish them. So, by searching for the same codes I could find the matching Italian names for those items. Bingo! The 'holster' was nothing more than a 'handpiece' (='manipolo' in Italian), although some Italian companies call it 'driver' in their internal jargon, just to make things easy. Be honest, you didn’t suspect my job was so challenging, did you?
Why Eudamed is urgently needed, for Italian medical translations too
With this story, I wanted to give you an example of the difficulties we often encounter as we translate documents relating to medical devices. I am looking forward to the launch of #Eudamed, the new database that is currently under development pursuant to the European Medical Device Regulation 2017/745
). I really hope it will be useful, and it will help ensure greater terminological consistency in Italian medical translations.