Never is it wise to rely on machine translations. Especially when it comes to translations concerning specialised industries, there is no substitute for a translator with a high level of expertise in the relevant field, and no finer example of this exists than in medical translation.
Firstly you have to consider the same rules that apply to any sort of translation. It’s always so much more than a matter of doing things word by word, as is the tendency of machine translations. The exact message and sentiments of a text have to be maintained, requiring a native translator who understands the subtle nuances and colloquialisms of the target language.
Medical translation encompasses these factors whilst at the same time delving into more complex, specialised territory. Any text will be filled with terminology that can only someone with a respectable medical background will be able to convey in language in question. Because it is highly likely that medical jargon in another language will use an entirely different word or phrase to describe the same thing, such a task will be beyond the capabilities of a machine translation tool. Keeping up to date with developments in the field of medicine through journals and other sources is also something suitable only for a trained medical mind.
Last but not least, there’s the legal aspect. In any country, strict laws are always applicable to the import and export of medical products and services, so a translator must tailor his/her translation accordingly in order not to breach them. Regulating bodies are in place to make sure this isn’t the case, that will focus on whether texts are clear and readable to whichever audience they are meant for as well – possibly bearing in mind that certain content like that of instruction leaflets and medical prescriptions are read by people not expected to have medical knowledge.
It’s a good thing that the majority of people in need of medical translations aren’t stupid. There always has and will be a high demand for medical translation services, ensuring accurate content avoids the pitfalls of damaged reputations and legal mishaps.