Multilingual Health Care
- Longer hospital stays when professional interpreters were not used at admissions.
- Greater risk of line infections, surgical infections, falls, and pressure ulcers due to misunderstood post-care instructions.
- Greater risk of surgical delays due to difficulty understanding instructions, including how to prepare for a procedure.
- A greater chance of readmissions for certain chronic conditions due to difficulty understanding how to manage their conditions and take their medications, as well as which symptoms should prompt a return to care or when to follow up.
What’s Been Done So Far?
Are Interpreters the Answer?
- Physicians resisted re-conceptualizing the problem when contradictory information was mentioned.
- Nurses provided information congruent with clinical expectations but not congruent with patients’ comments.
- Nurses slanted the interpretations, reflecting unfavorably on patients and undermining patients’ credibility.
- Patients explained the symptoms using a cultural metaphor that was not compatible with Western clinical nosology.
How Primary Care Providers Can Best Provide Multilingual Care
- Are you confident that you understand the needs of your LEP patients?
- What steps are you taking to ensure that interpreted interactions are accurate?
- Are you taking cultural factors into consideration when addressing language barriers?
- How are you ensuring that your LEP patients fully understand all information they are given?
- What indications do you have that “informed consent” from LEP patients is truly informed?
- How are you integrating cultural competence as an essential aspect of quality patient care?
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources Office of Minority Health
- National Association of State Offices of Minority Health
- HHS’ Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Resources for Effective Communication
- The Joint Commission Crosswalk with CLAS Standards
- National CLAS Standards Fact Sheet
- Culture Connect