Question about translating medical records
Thread poster: adr012
Puerto Rico
English to Spanish
+ ...
Mar 2

Hello. I am translating the results of a nerve conduction velocities of the upper extremities test into Spanish. The document has a lot of abbreviations, for example: "65 RH man with PMH of HTN, HLD, BBPV". I found out what they mean in Spanish. My question is: do I need to abbreviate it in Spanish too? Or should I write the complete word in Spanish?

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betül asiye karpuzcu  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:19
Member (2012)
Turkish to English
+ ...
I write in whole Mar 2

In my language (I am a native Turkish speaker), most of the abbreviations are not used, except for the vessel names, disease names etc. Sometimes (especially when taking anamnesis and making systems examination) Turkish doctors use quite different abbreviations, not the ones used in English. And, most importantly, there is more or less a systematic way of writing in the US system, we are lacking of such a common way here. Everyone has their own style
And in general, Turkish people are not that keen on abbs as the English speakers are, that applies any domain as well as the daily life.
So, except for the very obvious ones (example: Diabetes Mellitus is also Diabetes Mellitus in Turkish so DM is DM) I prefer to write them in the long way. In your example I will definitely write eg. "right handed person" (of course its Turkish translation)

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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:19
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Depends Mar 2

Though medical is not among my areas of expertise, at least once a month I am asked to do such translations.
Here's how I do:
- if an abbreviation is Latin, I leave it;
- if it is a source language abbreviation, I find an according abbreviation in the target language and add a full term following in brackets after the mentioning for the first time.
It has been working perfectly for my clients.

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Florencia Sosa  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
Write the complete term in Spanish Mar 2

Unlike English, Spanish medical jargon is not frequently packed with acronyms/abbreviations. For most of the English acronyms in the source text, you may need to write the whole term in the Spanish text.
To be 100% sure before you decide, it would be a good idea to google the frequency of use for both the acronym and the complete term in Spanish.
I hope you find it useful!I specialize in medical translation, if you have any doubt feel free to send me a message. I would be happy to help you.
Good luck and happy translating!

[Edited at 2017-03-02 18:17 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-03-02 18:19 GMT]

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Patricia Ferreira Larrieux  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:19
English to Italian
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
My opinion: do not abbreviate, unless there is an established abbreviation in your target language Mar 2

The way I do it is this: I spell out all abbreviations unless I am 100% sure that an established abbreviation exists in my target language. To check for established medical abbreviations in Spanish, I use "Siglas médicas en español", a paid resource that you can find in Cosnautas. In any case, according to my experience, abbreviations are used a lot less in Spanish than in English.

I hope this helps!


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United States
Local time: 13:19
Member (2016)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I agree with the majority Mar 2

To prevent any confusion I would write out the the whole word in the Spanish translation. If there is a Spanish abbreviation that is commonly used, I would write it with the whole word in [brackets] after it.

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Puerto Rico
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thank you! Mar 3

Thanks to all of you for the information. If I don't find the abbreviation, I will write the complete words. I will also google the frequencies. Again, thanks a lot!

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