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Hand written medical notes
Thread poster: Lorna Thomson
Lorna Thomson
Local time: 08:33
Spanish to English
Apr 22, 2005

I'd like to ask what other translations do when faced with a wad of hand written medical notes. I can work my way through typed notes but I really am at a loss to know how to price, or how to decipher notes written by various doctors......

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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:33
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Double your usual rate Apr 22, 2005

I now it sounds harsh but you are being asked to read and transcribe (mentally) and then translate.

I suggest you make either a recording or a typed version to show your client and ensure it is a correct version you are going to translate.
Medical notes are not something you should take risks with and what's the alternative? Ringing the client up every 5 minutes to ask for explanations?
Anyway, good luck and rather you than me!

Angela


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Vicky Shelton  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:33
Italian to English
+ ...
Consult with a physician Apr 22, 2005

I hate doing those. However, when forced to I go through all the documents and circle whatever I can't figure out, then call the doctors I translate for at the University and take all the stuff to them. There are usually three or four of them around and if they cannot decipher something I tell the client it is completely illegible.
Good luck!
Vicky


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
Charge More Apr 23, 2005

It is quite proper to charge more in proportion to the amount of time it takes to decipher poor handwriting, abbreviations, etc. If the quality is not so good then there will be parts that are undecipherable or illegible; just take it in stride.

Running things past other people is a very good idea. Another thing I recommend is "sleeping on it", it is amazing sometimes how an illegible word can all of a sudden jump out of the page the next morning.

It's all part of the profession and should be properly compensated.


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Pat Jenner
Local time: 08:33
German to English
+ ...
Charge by time Apr 23, 2005

This is what I generally do for this kind of job. It's not only the handwriting that poses a problem, also the medical penchant for making up their own abbreviations which can take ages to work out. A word of caution on showing the actual texts to other physicians: great idea in principle, but unless they are the people who wrote the notes you might have confidentiality problems unless anything identifying the patient is blanked out in the text.

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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:33
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Just did one like that this month Apr 24, 2005

I had 75 pages of photocopied handwritten medical records. I told my client, who has sent me work regularly for a couple of years now, that I did not want to do it. He insisted, so I told him to just send me 10 pages. So what did he do - he photocopied all 75 and sent them to me by post. We talked several times by phone and he kept trying to convince me. I sent him a couple of sample pages I translated with a zillion [illegible]s in it and asked if that is what he really wanted. He said yes, please do it like that.

I finally accepted it all, against my will, with the following conditions:

1. I get paid a much higher rate than I usually charge.
2. I get a signed purchase order which specifies that I will not be liable for any errors and/or omissions.

Despite the high rate and volume of work, I did not feel good about this after finishing.

A solution that I asked for was to have the medical secretary at the hospital TYPE these foresaken pages into Word and send them along. It would have immensely improved the translation and also would have saved everyone time and money. I guess that didn't happen.

Good luck.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:33
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It won't work (not so well, anyway) Apr 26, 2005

Edward Potter wrote:

A solution that I asked for was to have the medical secretary at the hospital TYPE these foresaken pages into Word and send them along. It would have immensely improved the translation and also would have saved everyone time and money. I guess that didn't happen.

Good luck.



The handwritten notes are usually made by the medical staff in the patient's presence or with him close by, in the course of check-up (note that the other stuff not handwritten are either hospital forms or print-outs from instruments). Both the staff and the instruments employ abbreviations or a kind of shorthand that makes for highly difficult reading. We once had a massive job like this (by massive, I mean a million and half words) involving a provincial database. There were 10 secretaries working overtime to input the data so we could have txt files, to translate and guess what? They couldn't read it either.

Result: translation from bad transcription. Almost as difficult as translation from illegible handwriting (if the transcriber made a mistake, you had to guess what it was all about). The liability disclaimer is one solution, but nothing beats the ... ProZ.com medics, and having them around in shifts 24 hours a day


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Lorna Thomson
Local time: 08:33
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
My grateful thanks to you all for sensible advice Apr 27, 2005

Thank you so, so, so much for such wise advice with this question. I have really appreciated all that has been said on this subject. Yes, it makes sense to charge high (since it is going to be labour-intensive) and to do my best to put the client off!!! I know that at the end of the day I'll have a job I'm not well satisfied with

Thought it was such down-to-earth advice to "sleep on it" - you're absolutely right! I'm going to contact the client's representative today and see how I get on....??

Huge thanks again - it's great to have such sympathetic support!


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 08:33
my experience May 10, 2005

I translate German medical reports on a regular basis as part of a cardiology project - at first, the handwritten notes drove me crazy, especially when the notes have been faxed around a few times. However I find printing it out or zooming the document on screen helps.

If you think about it in context, if the doctor knew at the time that his/her notes were going to be translated, they might have made sure to write more clearly.

Practically every hospital is bound to have their own in-house jargon or abbreviations or short-hand, which can be a mix of the source language, English and Latin. (I've come across this trilingual mix a few times)... Doesn't help, I know.

In my case now, because my project deals with the same kind of disease (CHD, angina), I am more familiar with the topic now than when I started, so it makes more sense to me. I can make an intelligent guess, but will put the word in brackets to cover myself.

If you are not sure, put down [?] or [illegible] - don't take ANY chances with medical translation,! Clients do appreciate that this kind of work is time-intensive.

Orla


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