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New, Accurate Spanish Language Medical Information

02/08/16 Robert S. Porter, MD, Editor-in-Chief, The Merck Manuals

Despite an abundance of English language medical references online, there has been a shortage of comprehensive health resources for Spanish speakers in the United States –in particular, of professionally translated medical resources tailored for a Spanish-speaking audience. When searching for health information online, Spanish speakers in the U.S must all too often use an English language site. And although many are comfortable conversing in English, they may not be similarly confident they understand critical medical information. 

Some people choose to translate online English information into Spanish using an automated translation tool, such as Google Translate. However, a study published by the British Medical Journal found that Google Translate has only 57.7 percent accuracy when used for medical phrase translations into various languages. Relying on automated translation alone is unacceptable, and inaccuracies can lead to confusion about symptoms, treatments, and dosing.

On the other hand, if an online medical reference has already been translated into Spanish, then people must judge not only the credibility of the source but also the quality of the translation.

At the MSD Manuals, we believe that health information is a universal right and that every person is entitled to accurate and accessible medical information. Breaking down language barriers is a vital part of our mission, and we are proud to announce the launch of the MSD Manuals in Spanish at in the United States. All the current English language content of the Manuals has been translated by leading professionals to ensure that all medical information is accurate, complete and tailored to Spanish-speakers.

Here’s what we did to ensure the accuracy of our Spanish-language version:

    • The consumer translation was coordinated by a global translations company, which identified a number of native Spanish-speaking medical doctors and experienced medical linguists.
    • The MSD Manuals team then selected a team of the best writers and editors from this group to translate the Manual’s content. The translators used a three-step process (translate, edit, and quality control) to ensure accuracy and completeness.
    • Finally, selected content was reviewed again by an independent, native Spanish-speaking physician reviewer as an additional check.
The launch of the Spanish language version is part of The Manuals’ Global Medical Knowledge 2020 mission—a worldwide initiative to make the best current medical information accessible to nearly 3 billion consumers and health care professionals by 2020 (see what our mission is all about). We want people who visit for medical information to get the facts they need, in a format most valuable to them, so they can have a well-informed discussion with their doctor. Please note the drop-down language menu in the upper right corner of every page that you can use to select Spanish (and soon other languages as well).
Robert S. Porter, MD, Editor-in-Chief, The Merck Manuals