Bates’ guide to physical examination and history taking- 12th edition

Bates’ guide to physical examination and history taking

Bates Guide to Physical Examination vover

Bates translation- Project


1) WHAT: Translation of the 12th edition into Vietnamese


-Primary: to provide medical students in Vietnam with a (international) high standard textbook for history taking and physical examination.

2) WHY: Need for a uniform, internationally standard book for teaching of history taking and physical examination

As practising physicians and medical teachers, we all acknowledge the foremost importance of careful history taking and thorough physical examination as the basis of medical expertise. These abilities should therefore be acquired as early as possible in the training of medical students, and refined in our entire professional career.

Over generations, vietnamese physicians have written numerous books to promote the acquisition of these capacities. However, in our knowledge, a systematic and complete guide which shares the same information with our colleagues worldwide, is not available in Vietnamese. Some partial translations of books with similar content may exist, but they are often not in conformity with authors’ rights legislation so that a widespread and official use of them is not possible.

“Bates’s physical examination and history taking” is a well-known and widely used book, in the USA and in many parts of the world. Since its first edition in 1974, it has been edited twelf times with the fisrt nine by the first copyright holder Lippincott, Williams and Willkins between 1974 and 2007.  Three updated versions have been edited by the present right holder-  Wolters Klugers –  in 2009, 2013  and now in 2017. The book has also repeatedly been translated in several languages, among which French (10th american edition) in 2010  and  Spanish (11 th american edition) in 2013.

As a standard book with international renown, Bates proves itself an excellent candidate for translation in Vietnamese. With the trend toward introducing more English in Vietnamese Medical schools, some may argue that medical students should learn the content directly in English so that a translation may not be  necessary. Another argument may be raised again the translation is that the translated version may rapidly lose its validity due to rapidly changing medical knowledge.

As physicians and researchers however, we are convinced that the fundamental, basic knowledge contained in “Bates” will not readily become out-of-date. Indeed, adaptations have been regularly adopted by the publishers, but rather for didactical and other reasons than for content related issues.  Major changes  have effectively concerned the layout, the restructuration, the rearrangement of the chapters. Essential medical information has  remained unchanged and will, in our opinion, continue to resist the test of time for many more years to come.

The translation of “Bates” is also a response to a need to provide our medical students with the same medical content as their international peers. This may help to shape self-confidence for Vietnamese Physicians in their daily medical activities and in their interactions with their colleagues from around the world.

3) Financial and human resources :

The Swiss-Vietnamese Medical Association (HELVIETMED) is composed of physicans versed both in English and Vietnamese, besides their competency/ expertise in several medical fields. They are willing to launch and to fund the translation project in association with other experienced physicians with solid English knowledge from different medical faculties and hospitals in Vietnam.

A close collaboration with the School of Medicine of the Vietnam National University at HCMC allows to recruit a first competent staff to cover several chapters of the book. Additional staff will be enroled from other faculties in Saigon and South Vietnam for practical reasons to complete the translation.

In order to promote young talented physicians and medical students, each chapter will be translated by them. Senior physicians serve as critical reviewers to ensure quality of the translation.


1) Administrative staff:

  • Coordination : Dr. Nguyen An Binh (principal).
  • Secretarial work : Dr. Nguyen Minh Dung and Dr. Le Khac Tien
  • Supervisory board : Prof. Dang Van Phuoc (VNU-SoM), Prof. Nguyen Thi Loi (VNU-SoM), Dr. Nguyen Quan-Vinh (Helvietmed)

2) Translation staff ( cf  annexed)

  • Requirement :
    • competency in specific medical fields correspondant to the chosen/assigned chapter to translate
    • Good command of English
    • Enthusiasm and availibility for the translation work in question
    • Team work capacity with openess to collaboration, criticism

Rights and obligations of staff:

  • Rights and benefits


    • Compensation for secretarial work : Dr. Minh Dung and Dr. Khac Tien: 100 CHF/month each.
    • Compensation for translation work
      • Immaterial: authors will be fully acknowledged as such in the printed translated version
      • Material:
        • Obtention of a copy of the translated book
        • 100% of the effective benefit from the books sold ( benefit= income from sales minus original authors’ rights and printing costs) will be shared in equal parts ( junior= senior ; same amount for every chapter. 20 chapters X 2 = 40 equal parts)
  1. Roles/duties :
    • Translation staff :
      • Ensure quality of the translation
      • Respect agreed time-lines, deadlines
      • Create, promote good, respectful interactions inside the chapter’s team and between teams
      • Accept feedbacks and recommandations from the coordination and the supervisory board.
    • Coordination :
      • Constructive dialogues/interactions with all participants
      • Establish timelines/deadlines
      • Monitoring and ensuring progress of work
      • Be available to find solutions for emerging problems of any kind
      • Report to the supervisory board at regular intervals and on demand
      • Establish contacts with publishing houses in Vietnam, ensure quality of printing aspects
    • Secretarial work :
      • Assist the coordination in all the above-mentioned aspects
    • Supervisory board :
      • Overall supervision of the project
      • Find/ propose solutions to problems that can not be resolved by the coordination
      • Settle conflicts with may be emerging
      • Serve as last resort for any problems that can not be resolved

HOW (expected):

  • First draft of the entire book completed within one year, ideally within 9 months from the start
  • Last draft after corrections/reviews/external reviews within 6 months, ideally within 3 months
  • Lay-out/ printing of the validated last draft as a book within 3 months.
  • Timelines, modality for communication and for monitoring of work progress: to be fixed by the coordination team