Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health


Volume 11, Issue 6

Inclusive Pages



Hospital Administration; Translating; Health Administration & Organization; Immigrant Health; Minority Health; Hospitals


Objective: Identify characteristics of hospitalbased language services (LS), and describe practices of identifying patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) and interpreter training.

Participants: Seventy-one hospitals applied to participate in a national initiative. Applicants were non-federal, acute care hospitals with substantial LEP populations, at least 10,000 discharges, and in-person interpreters.

Methods: Descriptive statistics were generated on language, collection of language data, LEP volume and service utilization, staffing and training requirements and organizational structure. The relationship between admissions and encounters was analyzed.

Results Ninety percent of hospitals collect primary language data. Spanish is the most common language (93% of hospitals). We found no statistically significant correlation between admissions and encounters. Eighty-four percent require training. Eightynine percent have a designated LS department but no clear organizational home.

Conclusions: Hospital-based LS programs are facing challenges identifying patients with language needs, staffing and training a workforce, and creating an organizational identity. Need is not associated with utilization, suggesting that LS are not reaching patients.

Peer Reviewed


Open Access


Included in

Health Policy Commons



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