Improving Medical Care for Non-Native English Speaking Patients

Medical NeedsThe United States is home to people of various ethnicities. In fact, minority groups such as Asians, African Americans, and other Pacific Islanders make up one-third of the country’s population. The wide dispersal of minority groups, however, is also creating a bigger language gap between citizens.

According to Raintree Systems, the issue of people with limited English proficiency, or LEP, could have a huge impact on the quality of care and patient safety. This calls for hospitals to increase their efforts to provide LEP patients with medical attention and care equal to what is available to native-speakers.

How Do Language Barriers Affect Treatment?

Patients with LEP may experience difficulty consulting a health care professional because of their inability to communicate effectively with each other. An LEP patient will find it difficult to disclose patient history and understand prescribed prescription plans as well. Furthermore, the language divide could breed feelings of distrust and result in low patient satisfaction.

Professional Interpretation Services Are a Must

Some medical concepts may be difficult to explain to a non-native speaking patient. Especially in cases where medical practitioners need to obtain consent or deliver bad news, resorting to a trained medical interpreter is a more reasonable option. Furthermore, the presence of an interpreter that has a higher degree of professional instruction lowers the chance of patient-doctor miscommunication and clinical errors.

Treatment Is Easier with Complete Patient Data

Upon registration, hospitals should collect data on race, ethnicity, language preference, and English proficiency so that it’ll be easier for hospitals to cater to patient needs. Storing the information in system databases makes it accessible to track patients who require extra care. Additionally, collecting data from patients allows doctors to address high-risk scenarios and prevent safety events among patients with learning disabilities.

Language barriers between patients and physicians may be prevalent these days, but it doesn’t mean that LEP patients should suffer for it and receive sub-par medical treatment or that health care should be an uncomfortable experience for both parties. With the right measures in place, hospitals can also effectively cater to the medical needs of LEP patients.