Best practices in the translation industry dictates that any translator you employ should be an indigenous speaker of your project’s target language. A native speaker of your target language can recognize ways to translate the content and (importantly) intent into the other language, where a non-native speaker can easily make errors. This is specifically important in clinical translation where errors such as these can have severe consequences.
Additionally, indigenous speakers have a deeper knowledge of the minute differences between the numerous target markets to which your text is being targeted. Clinical terms, for example, may have a variety of synonyms, and making these specific terms understandable requires understanding and using the right context.
For example, medical records may simplify specialized, technical terminology using colloquial language. For instance, in English, a physician might state that a patient is “feeling blue” instead of simply “depressed.” A good translator will be able to recognize both the technical as well as the colloquial versions of this phrase, preserving not only the significance but the reader’s full understanding of the text. The choice of ideal language to convey expressions, analogies, metaphors, and other cultural language usages involves having a deep level of knowledge of the language, the culture, and the history of the target reader.
Other important areas to differentiate are the audience themselves. While some text may be for patients, others may be for medical professionals, and being able to recognize and interpret a term in multiple ways (e.g., “hypertension” vs. “high blood pressure”) is very important. Without this degree of knowledge, the target paper will certainly not meet its purpose of being comprehensible by the audience for which it is meant.
Accurate transmission of clinical documents and medical knowledge is vital in this era of expanding globalization and human movement across the globe. Every step in the healthcare process must be understandable across all language barriers, and for this reason a native speaker is of utmost importance for medical translation.