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One-third of Hospitals in U.S. Fail to Offer Language Services

Twenty-four million people in the United States have limited English proficiency. They experience barriers to healthcare because of their inability to communicate effectively with providers. According to an analysis published recently in Health Affairs, more than a third of the hospitals in the United States in 2013 did not offer patients access to language assistance.

In areas with the greatest need, about 25% of facilities failed to provide such services. Based on civil rights law, any hospital receiving federal funds must have language services available for its patients. However, many patients do not know their right to access language services. The study noted, private for-profit hospitals — the kind least likely to offer this kind of help — continue to grow in market share.But the challenge also provides an opportunity for hospitals to empower their customers to be informed patients. Read more about the study, LEP, and U.S. civil rights law in this article at Kaiser Health News .

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Communicate with Patients via Interpretation Services

World Globe with Stethoscope

People who are not proficient in the language of the country in which they live may have difficulty accessing health services. They may need access to medical interpreters and translated information when they visit a healthcare provider. The large number of languages spoken in certain cities and countries can make provision of translation and interpretation services complicated.

Spoken translation services through interpretation offer real-time communication solutions in a variety of medical and healthcare settings. Throughout a typical day, numerous interactions may require language services either by using translated patient materials or a medical interpreter. These medical language services ensure safety, accuracy and efficiency when caring for patients and are critical components of quality of care and patient satisfaction.

Legal Considerations

Communicating with patients in their native language is not only beneficial to the patient and the institution, sometimes, it is also the law. In the United States many private healthcare providers receive federal funds through programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. All recipients of federal funds are required – per Title VI of the Civil Rights Act – to provide language services. Not providing these services to multilingual patients would discriminate on the basis of national origin, which includes one’s native language.

Types of Interpretation Services

Interpretation can be consecutive, sequentially interpreting statements, which is ideal for smaller, one-to-one settings or simultaneous, which is commonly used for large, one-to-many gatherings, such as investigator meetings. Whether in person, over-the-phone or via a video monitor, interpretation services help meet the needs of a diverse patient base and communicate in their native languages.

Welocalize provides quick references to the various interpretation services in this post: Connecting with Global Interpretation Services.

Medical Interpretation Services

Professional interpretation services by using subject matter experts increases patient satisfaction and provides outstanding care. Ensuring that interpreters have experience in the medical or regulatory fields is critical when selecting interpretation services within healthcare and life sciences. Interpreters who understand the critical nature of accurate translation and also have an understanding of the nuances of a highly regulated environment mitigate risk and ensure safe outcomes. Contact Welocalize Life Sciences for information about our professional medical and healthcare interpreters and interpretation services.

Language Barriers in End-of-Life Care

The population in the United States is growing older and more ethnically diverse over time, according to United States Census Bureau statistics. This means more medical resources will be devoted to end-of-life care (EoLC). Language barriers can often create additional costs and cause inefficiencies in EoLC. Studies show some patients from different ethnic groups are more likely to undergo intense, often non-urgent, treatments in their final years but are less likely to go into hospice care. end-of-life costs.

That’s a problem that better communication could ease, argues a team of researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Veterans Administration’s Palo Alto, California hospital. However, until recently, no one really knew what stood in the way of doctors talking with their patients about planning for their final days, especially when those patients were from different ethnic backgrounds.

A team of researchers, led by Stanford clinical professor and Veterans Health Administration Doctor Vyjeyanthi Periyakoil, has data from a study aimed at uncovering the stumbling blocks. Of the more than 1,200 doctors surveyed, about five in six reported having had significant difficulties talking about death and dying with patients from different ethnicities and as a group they cited language barriers as the top reason. (Read the full study: PLOS ONE.)

“Medical jargon is often difficult to translate into other languages [as equivalent words may not exist] and approximate translations do not convey the true meaning and may lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication,” Periyakoil and her team write. Doctors also cited families’ religious and cultural beliefs as barriers.

For any language team working on medical and healthcare translation and interpretation, they must be fluent, native linguists and hold a high level of subject matter expertise. It is important to keep the translated content aligned with the source content. There is no room for error. However, it remains important to adapt the content to resonate with local audiences, both culturally and linguistically. Putting translators, linguists, and reviewers into the shoes of the patient creates a deeper understanding of overall objectives which can be delivered into all locales.

Contact Welocalize Life Sciences for more information on our medical and healthcare translation services.