Department of Health Policy, School of Public Health and Health Services, The George Washington University
Issue Brief: Survey Findings
Access to Health Care; Underserved Populations; Minority Health; Hospitals; Discrimination
Improving access to language services in health care settings has become a focal point for health reform and disparities-focused legislation, in recognition of the increasing linguistic and cultural diversity of individuals across the nation. Bilingual staff and clinicians can serve as enormously valuable resources to hospitals and other health care organizations, offering a critical set of skills to interact with individuals who require care in a language other than English. Bilingual clinicians can serve a vital need for hospitals by providing high-quality health care, improving patient safety, and meeting organizational priorities to provide linguistically and culturally appropriate care for patients.
We spoke with human resources directors at 899 hospitals around the country to learn how hospitals are using physicians, nurses, and other staff and clinicians as resources for communicating with patients in languages other than English. The majority of hospitals care for patients with language needs, with 74 percent of hospitals serving patients whose primary language is not English. Of these hospitals, nearly three-quarters reported seeing patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) on a daily or weekly basis.
Huang, J., Jones, K., Regenstein, M., & Ramos, C. (2009). Talking with patients: How hospitals use bilingual clinicians and staff to care for patients with language needs (Issue brief: Survey findings). Washington, DC: Department of Health Policy, School of Public Health and Health Services, The George Washington University.