It's not exactly "medical" translation, but different date formats come up fairly frequently on medical translation projects. Many of our U.S.-based clients are unaware of the different formats around the world.
ISO 8601 is a standard orders from the largest (the year) to the smallest (the second), which is rarely followed.
International Standard ISO 8601:2004(E) specifies numeric representations of date and time. This standard notation helps to avoid confusion in international communication caused by the many different national notations and increases the portability of computer user interfaces.
According to ISO 8601, dates are ordered from the largest (year) to the smallest (second), as follows:
2009-04-12T13:45:29Dates and times can be a medical localization nightmare. Often political, geographic and religious factors have come into play.
ISO 8601 is a good solution because it is a standard designed for computer data transfer and developed by a standards body. It is also a good choice because it is compatible with the calendar system used by businesses around the world. Finally, it is a good choice as it forces API users to think about the decision they make if they require non-ISO calendar systems.
UPDATE: The original post contained a couple of mistakes, as Gonzalo pointed out in the comments. (Thank you, Gonzalo.) Also, for a copy of the ISO 8601 standard, see this PDF file.
Categories: software localization