How To Translate Medical Device Instructions?

how to translate medical device instructions

Medical devices play a key role in modern healthcare. Clear and spot-on instructions on how to use these devices are vital for safe and effective use.

Yet, these instructions need to be translated into multiple languages for global accessibility.

Translating instructions for medical devices is a specialized task that demands meticulous attention to detail and knowledge of medical terminology and jargon.

Medical device translation services cater to this need while ensuring clarity and accuracy across languages.

Translators specialized in medical device translation need to have a full grasp of both medical terminology and technical jargon.

In this article, we’ll go over some helpful tips for accurately and clearly translating medical device instructions.

Why does Medical Device Translation matter?

Translating medical device instructions means more people can use the device or technology. It can, and does, save lives. Accurate translation means safe device usage. It’s a form of medical translation that requires expertise in medical terminology and linguistic precision.

It’s commonly linked with translating medical reports and medical terms for the role they play in the healthcare industry. 

Medical device translation procedures are subject to international regulations and strict health standards to ensure clear communication worldwide.

By following these guidelines, medical translators can translate medical device instructions effectively, while minimizing the risk of errors and fostering better outcomes.

Understanding your readers

Medical device translation is super important for showing readers how to use medical devices correctly. When translating device instructions, you need to know what the device does and how it works. That’s the first step of the whole process.

Source Language and Target Audience

Having a solid handle on the source and target languages is key to saving readers from getting lost in translation. 

That’s why you should figure out who’s going to read your translated materials first. You need to identify your target audience, whether they’re medical professionals, patients, or even caregivers.

Identifying your target audience helps you deliver a tailored translation that suits each type of reader. To do so, you need to understand their language skills, cultural backgrounds, and familiarity with medical devices.

Technical Terms and Localization

Medical device instructions can be complicated. They’ve got all sorts of tricky technical terms that readers might be unfamiliar with.

That’s why medical device translators often do some serious research on the target language’s cultural norms and linguistic nuances.

Hitting books and diving into medical dictionaries and glossaries are all ways to handle all complicated jargon. Even navigating the internet and asking experts familiar with the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of intended audiences can be helpful.

But, most importantly, you need to put yourself in your reader’s shoes and keep the text familiar and easier to read. That’s where localization and cultural considerations come into play.

Localization is about adapting your translation to suit different markets. Translators achieve this by adjusting measurements, formats, and terminologies to regulatory requirements.

Translators of medical device instructions can provide a top-notch outcome by localizing illustrations and user interfaces while considering cultural nuances.

Understanding How The Device Works

When it comes to translating instructions for medical devices, figuring out how a device works is crucial.

1. Understand device features 

Without knowing the key features and functions of a device, the translation might end up confusing or even dangerous.

To deliver a clear translation of medical device instructions, you should understand the ins and outs of a device. This helps medical translators pick the optimum words to explain everything clearly.

Medical device translation isn’t about swapping words from a language to another. It’s way more than that. As a translator, you need to dig into the device, figure out its main features, and understand exactly what it does.

This way, you can make sure that when someone reads the translated instructions, they know exactly what to do with the device.

2. Researching Medical Terms

Medical device instructions usually use technical language that may not be familiar to all readers. Make sure your translation is clear by researching the device and the company that made it.

This will help you learn about any medical terms and jargon associated with the device. Conduct your research online, from the client brief, or by using specialized medical dictionaries and glossaries, or all of those together.

3. Ensuring safety 

To accurately translate medical device instructions, the translator must first understand the medical device and its intended use. It is critical to identify and fully understand the device’s key features and functions.

This knowledge can assist the translator in selecting the best language to describe the device and its functions.

In addition, the translator should conduct research on any relevant medical terminology and technical jargon associated with the device.

Medical devices frequently use unique technical language that may be unfamiliar to the intended audience.

As a result, it is critical to use specialized medical dictionaries and glossaries to ensure terminology accuracy.

The Medical Device Instructions Translation Process

For medical device instructions, the translator must select the appropriate level of translation.

Because the target language may not have the same structure and syntax as the source language, literal translation may not always be appropriate.

The idiomatic translation may also be ineffective because cultural idioms, slang, and abbreviations may not be accurately translated.

General translation tips 

For medical device instructions, a hybrid translation approach that combines elements of the literal and idiomatic translation may be the best option.

The translator should use simple language that is clear and concise.

Medical device instructions should be written in a way that patients with varying levels of education and language proficiency can understand.

Using simple sentences and avoiding complex sentence structures can assist in understanding.

Visual aids, such as illustrations or diagrams, can be especially beneficial in improving understanding.

Medical devices frequently have complex features and functions that are difficult to explain in words.

So, using visual aids can assist the audience in better understanding the device and reduce the risk of errors.

Reviewing and Testing

The translator should have a medical professional or someone familiar with the target audience review the medical device instructions after they have been translated.

This can aid in identifying any errors or inaccuracies in the translation and ensuring that the instructions are clear and accurate.

Usability testing can also help ensure that the translated instructions are simple to understand and follow.

It entails instructing a group of people from the intended audience on how to use the medical device and providing feedback on the instructions.

This feedback can assist in identifying any areas of the instructions that may be unclear or confusing, allowing for revisions before the instructions are published.

Common Mistakes That Translators Should Avoid

While clarity and accuracy are a must in translating medical device instructions, translators can still fall into the trap of common mistakes.

 Here’s a list of the common mistakes in this area of medical translation and how to avoid them.

1. Translating too literally

One of the most common mistakes in medical device translation is translating instructions too literally.

It’s essential to stay faithful to the original source. However, rigidly sticking to the source language can result in an awkward or confusing translation.

2. Excessive use of machine translation tools

Machine translation tools can be helpful in speeding up the translation process. But overreliance on these tools often leads to mistranslations or inaccuracies.

Medical device translation requires a full understanding of a mix of medical terminology and features.  That’s why human oversight is important to identify errors, ensure consistency, and refine the translation.

Instead of solely depending on machine translation tools, translators should use these tools as a helping hand.

3. Using overly technical language

Another common mistake is the use of overly technical language, which may not be comprehensible to an audience who doesn’t have a medical background.

Translators need to strike a balance between using medical terminology and clear, easy-to-understand language.

4. Using unfamiliar acronyms or abbreviations

Like other types of medical translation, medical device instructions come with acronyms and abbreviations that are unfamiliar to non-specialists.

Translating these terms without breaking them down will not deliver the intended meaning to readers.

In this case, the translator’s role is to provide an explanation in the target language. This will help make the instructions accessible to readers who aren’t familiar with the technical terminology.


Medical device instruction translation is a specialized task that necessitates careful consideration of every detail and knowledge of medical terminology and technical jargon.

Translators must also consider the intended audience and tailor their work accordingly.

Following these guidelines, translators can ensure that medical device instructions are effectively translated, lowering the risk of errors, and improving patient outcomes.

It’s critical to translate these instructions accurately and clearly because it can affect patient safety and health outcomes.

As a result, selecting a skilled and experienced translator who understands the nuances of medical language and can tailor the translation to the target audience is critical.

To get the best translation for your medical needs, feel free to reach out to us at TranslationPartner.