How would you like it if all your products were documented, localized and translated into major languages without any issues? No regulatory problems, no terminology inconsistencies, no questionable wording… Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? Well, all of this is possible, but only if your language service provider is using resources like MedDRA, WHOART, LOINC, SNOMED CT.

MedDRA? SNOMED CT? What are these resources?

These resources are medical terminology dictionaries, glossaries and lists that provide a comprehensive database for any medical or pharmaceutical manufacturer. Controlled vocabularies help language service providers to translate unstructured, verbatim texts consistently and properly classify each term.

US and EU regulations and good practice measures require adherence to MedDRA – Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities – the oldest official regulatory medical dictionary. MedDRA currently supports 11 major languages, among them Japanese, Chinese, German and English. It is the biggest terminology dictionary and thesaurus – it holds more than 95,000 terms (version 19.0, March 2016). MedDRA also deals with coding symbols and is the standard in many modern countries. MedDRA requires payment for private use, but access to it can be gained through EUTCT.

WHOART (World Health Organization Adverse Reactions Terminology) is a dictionary for adverse reaction coding that holds more than 5,000 terms.

LOINC (Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes) is a database and universal standard for identifying medical laboratory observations. The database is available through software RELMA in Simplified Chinese, German and Spanish. As of 2012, it is being harmonized with SNOMED CT.

SNOMED CT is a multinational and multilingual database of medical terms, codes, synonyms and definitions used in documentation and reporting. It is maintained and distributed by the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation, and provides general terminology used in health records and has a wide coverage of various fields: clinical findings, symptoms, procedures, substances, pharmaceuticals, devices etc. Unlike MedDRA, it can be downloaded for free.

Why should translators and document creators use them?

Medical terminology is important – the quality of life science translations and documents might be a matter of life and death for the patient. Using these resources (most of which are at least partially available for free) is a must for every language service provider, translator, documentation creator. Regulatory bodies like the FDA and EMA use MedDRA and it is mandatory in many fields, therefore regulatory issues in medical documentation can be avoided if you use correct terminology from these resources. Using SNOMED CT is a must for anyone documenting, translating and localizing medical devices, pharmaceuticals or substances. Translators and editors might include these dictionaries in their translation memories for more convenience.

Does your language service provider (LSP) use these resources?

Using correct terminology in medicinal translations helps avoid most problems and leads to faster times to market, which is a great advantage in a highly competitive field.

Familiarizing translators and editors with these resources should be a priority for every LSP dealing with life science translations. Clients that require medical document translation, medical device localization or other similar services, should always ask if the LSP uses MedDRA, SNOMED CT and similar resources. If not? Demand it, or simply walk away and find a service provider that cares about precision, consistency and quality.

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