Translating medical reports

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06 Oct 2011 00:00 by jeanie60 Star rating. 103 posts Send private message

 I wonder if anyone knows of a way to translate medical reports that you recieve when leaving hospital in spain.

I have tried scanning to translate but it wont do it.

I would realy like to see what is written.

I am trying to avoid an interpriter for the moment.



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06 Oct 2011 13:30 by Lorraine56 Star rating in Granada Spain. 50 posts Send private message

 Jeanie60,  Have you tried typing the text into Google translate or Bablefish ? I find they both work really well but you may have to do it sentence by sentence especially if it is a long report.

Life is an adventure so live it.

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06 Oct 2011 14:09 by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 5247 posts Send private message

Good luck with on line translators. I am yet to find one which is any good. 

If you think you have found one which is, try translating, say from English to Spanish and translate back again. 

Unless the piece is in very simple English you may not recognise the re-translated document



Back to this question:- 

There is a publication issued Andalusia Health Service (don't know if it applies to other areas) which sets out  'Rights and Obligations'.   


This info is supplied in English in addition to Spanish.


Under this is the right to be informed in a language, which the patient and his/her relatives understand, about diagnosis, treatment etc.


It's a long document. The Rights in English are at page 158



This message was last edited by johnzx on 06/10/2011.

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06 Oct 2011 15:16 by scubamike Star rating in Murcia province . 220 posts Send private message

scubamike´s avatar

I find is the best translator I have come across but not sure I would risk it for medical reports so easy to get it wrong. You really need a human translator with medical knowledge.

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06 Oct 2011 15:31 by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 5247 posts Send private message


Just tried the translator which you suggested. Found it about as good as the others,  Verdict.  Good do better !
I did the English to Spanish and back to English with a piece I had posted.  The back result was pretty incomprehensible.

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06 Oct 2011 15:58 by Faro Star rating in London. 1139 posts Send private message

On CDS most doctors and staff speak reasonable English - so either ask the doctor or on leaving find an English speaking member of staff.

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07 Oct 2011 23:59 by SMYTHIE Star rating. 145 posts Send private message


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08 Oct 2011 00:30 by bobaol Star rating. 2256 posts Send private message

bobaol´s avatar


Well, I'm sure many people do learn Spanish.  As one who does, and quite well I might add, I would also find it rather difficult to translate the medical terminology so it could be understood.  Mind you, I can't understand it in English half the time.  

For example, a nurse might tell a doctor: IL-2 patient, hypotensive, B.P. hovering between 70 over 40 to 60 over 30, occasionally tachy, bolused once this morning for a pressure of 80 over 50, getting another bolus right now, already fluid overloaded, crackles at the bases.”

Stick that in your translator and smoke it.

In fact, if you do English to Spanish then back again, ti comes up as:

Patient, hypotensive IL-2, boiling point that demonstrates between 70 on 40 to 60 on 30, from time to time tachy, bolused once this morning for a pressure of 80 on 50, obtaining another skittle now, already liquid overloaded, crujidos in the bases.”

Of course, if the medical profession didn't speak so that none of us could understand it, they wouldn't be able to justify their pay cheques.


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08 Oct 2011 00:36 by Poppyseed Star rating. 898 posts Send private message

Following a major ooperation and a 10 day stay in a Spanish hospital I was discharged with medical notes in Spanish only. I translated them bit by bit using an on line translator and got the jist, just. I gave the Spanish notes to my GP in UK and left them to it! Also during my stay the doctors spoke no English and we had to arrange and  pay for a translator to visit the hospital.



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08 Oct 2011 09:34 by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 5247 posts Send private message

 I don't think you are complaining just telling us your experience.
For those who might complain about similar things, I would point out that in the UK one would be extremely lucky to find a doctor who spoke good Spanish and of course all the notes would be in English.  Pu wuld alos be lucky to a translatore who help out without charge.
For over 15 years I have been a voluntary translator with the police. Over that time my very basic Spanish has improved but still things which are technical and specific to say medicine or another discipline are not straightforward.
Yes, learn Spanish;   But I know that is easier said than done even for those who have made Spain their home.  If one lives in a tourist area I know it can be difficult to get people, who in their whose every day job deal with foreigners (most of whom speak English) in shops, banks etc.,  to reply in Spanish even when you try. They really want either to improve their English or get you in and out as quickly as possible, so their English for their job is usually good, even if they are lost if you try to extent the conversation.
And let's also remember, people who come to live in Spain, with an income from elsewhere, are a financial asset and therefore it is not unreasonable to expect some help and understanding  from those who benefit directly and indirectly from thepr presence. This also applies even more so to tourists.

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08 Oct 2011 10:52 by Poppyseed Star rating. 898 posts Send private message

You're right I'm not complaining, they saved my life and I will be forever grateful! As for translators etc I completely accept if this service is required it is my responsibility.



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08 Oct 2011 14:10 by Faro Star rating in London. 1139 posts Send private message

Johnzx - In UK you will have difficulty finding a doctor speaking English!

In UK I have come across Spanish, German, Indian, chinese etc

But in UK it is easy to understand any form of foreign spoken English and not so in Spain where if you slightly mis-pronounce a word you get blank faces.

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08 Oct 2011 15:06 by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 5247 posts Send private message

Quote "But in UK it is easy to understand any form of foreign spoken English"
Sorry to go off thread but this reminded me.
I used to be a detective in London. Some years ago, I was investigating the murder of a Glaswegian, trying to take a statement from his wife, but I was only able to understand an odd word here and there.  Eventually I called her cockney neighbour in to help. She 'translated' for me.
The problem then was;  when an interpreter is used to assist in a police interview, that person must add a certificate to the statement, to the effect that they are fluent in whatever language and that they have truthfully translated it into English. Glaswegian to Cockney,  was not really covered !!.

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13 Oct 2011 23:23 by jeanie60 Star rating. 103 posts Send private message

 Thx every one,

I have already decided to go  with an interpreter,

My husband died at the end of april i have a lot of issues going on at the moment with uk and spain.

I realy need answers.


Jeanie x


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14 Oct 2011 01:23 by elviriadreamer Star rating. 99 posts Send private message

elviriadreamer´s avatar

Hi Jeanie

I have a friend who may be able to help...she is actually an accountant so not medically trained BUT speaks fluent Spanish. I need some of my own notes translated (the other way round though) and I will be asking if she could do mine. If you would like me to ask her I don't think she would mind as she's lovely. If she's at home I will try to ask tomorrow. If she can, do you have the facilities to scan the pieces you want translated and send in email as she is in Berkshire which is miles from you (my caravan is in Burnley near you, but not for long). Maybe you could exchange phone numbers in email and she could tell you over the phone after translating. Just say if you want me to ask and so sorry for your loss. Wishing you well.

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10 Dec 2011 10:50 by Rob in Madrid Star rating in Madrid. 274 posts Send private message

Rob in Madrid´s avatar

this brings up the most frustrating part of living in Spain, trying to survive the healthcare with limited Spanish. I've been suffering from a bad knee for several years now and I was lucky enough to find a doctor in the public system who had trained in English but the stress of dealing in Spanish (nurses, receptionists reports etc) has put me off going back for more treatment. But my knee is getting so bad that I'm going to be soon forced to go back.

The other problem is that no matter where you go in the world you can always find an English speaker who can help you out, so there is less incentive to learn the language.


Decided after all I don't like Spanish TV, that is having compared both.

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10 Dec 2011 10:56 by SMYTHIE Star rating. 145 posts Send private message


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10 Dec 2011 12:12 by elaineG Star rating in Spain . 409 posts Send private message


I agree, its such a pity that they have all these foreigners (Spaniards)  living and working here in Spain !!!!!!


I had to go to the expense of paying an interpreter before I had enough Spanish to cope, really so annoying !!!!!

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17 Dec 2011 12:23 by PablodeRonda Star rating in Ronda (Málaga). 73 posts Send private message

Well, first of all you can forget about the free online translation tools like Google Translate and Babelfish.  I agree with other posters like johnzx and scubamike that they’re not up to the task.

With something as important as your health, why take the risk? Employ a translator, ie a human being. A professional native speaker is essential (in your case a native speaker of English who has been trained to translate from Spanish) and they cost less than you think. 7-10 cents a word is standard, although there is usually a minimum charge of, say, 50 euros.

I charge 7 and my minimum charge is 25 euros, not that much really when it's something important like medical or legal.

I can be contacted at

We have a couple of rental properties, Villa Indiana in Ronda and Casa Rita in Montejaque. Take a look at

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17 Dec 2011 12:29 by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 5247 posts Send private message

Maybe I should start charging.

Every week I edit (translate) a newsltter which is written in English by a non native speaker, thus it does not 'read well'.


For over 16 years I havealso been a voluntray translator with  the police.  If I had charged I would be rich. !!!!


But who cares, I am happy,



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