|There are more than 20 million people in the United States who speak limited or no English, and this number is increasing daily. Differences in languages can cause minor inconveniences or misunderstandings in many aspects of life. When it comes to healthcare, however, a language barrier can be the difference between life and death.Researchers in the Center for Health Policy Research in the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine have found that language barriers between patients and healthcare providers result in longer hospital stays, more medical errors and lower patient satisfaction.|
Many major hospital systems employ around-the-clock translation services as a means to cope with language barriers that could adversely affect a patient’s diagnosis, prognosis and treatment or care. In fact, some states even require this accommodation by law … but is it enough?
According to the same research, patients’ ratings of their doctors and the quality of interpersonal care indicated that having an interpreter does not serve as a substitute for shared language. Doctors and nurses who speak the language of patients greatly improve the quality care in the eyes of non-English patients. Other considerations are accommodations made throughout all levels of care, not just in emergency settings.
Consider implementing these ideas in your healthcare organization today in order to communicate most effectively with all patients and to provide a sense of welcome and comfort to those in often sensitive situations:
Language barriers are real and it means better care on behalf of your organization by accommodating all patients and working to make them feel comfortable.
“ALA | Serving Non-English Speakers in U.S. Public Libraries.” American Library Association. Web. 14 May 2010.
“Language Barriers Adversely Impact Health-care Quality.” Science Daily: News & Articles in Science, Health, Environment & Technology. Web. 14 May
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