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Studies Show Importance of Language Services on Reducing Disparities, Increasing Quality of Patient Care
Date:11/1/2007

d prior to invasive procedures."

Study: Hispanics Who Speak Little English Are Less Likely to Receive All Recommended Health Care Services

A second study looked to see if the primary language spoken in a household identified whether Hispanic patients were at greater risk for not receiving the recommended health care services. Lead researcher Eric M. Cheng, M.D., of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, compared the receipt of 10 recommended health care services between white, English-speaking patients and Hispanics who were uncomfortable speaking English in a nationally representative survey. Hispanics who did not speak English at home were significantly less likely to receive all the eligible health care services (57% vs. 35%).

"Clearly, language usage predicts the quality of clinical care that patients receive," said Cheng. "While the reasons for this are being investigated, the consequences are unequivocally unacceptable. Expanding access to medical interpreters, as is currently required of hospitals that receive federal funding, in the outpatient setting will likely be an important component of interventions designed to improve the quality of health care in this population."

Study: One in Five Staff Interpreters at a Large Health Care Organization Do Not Have Competent Bilingual Skills

A third study in the supplement assessed the bilingual skills of "dual-role" staff interpreters -- individuals whose primary responsibility is in another area, but who often provide ad hoc medical interpretation between health care providers and LEP patients. Lead researcher Maria R. Moreno, of Sutter Health in Northern California, tested bilingual staff who interpret for accuracy, comprehension, communication and medical terminology in both English and the second language. The majority of those tested worked as administrative assistants, medical assistants and clinical staff. Results showed that two percent failed the competency test, an
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SOURCE Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
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