Language Barriers Affect Care
Health care providers in San Mateo County are having problems treating some limited-English proficiency patients, according to a study released last week, the San Francisco Examiner reports. The county health department commissioned the Linguistic Access Study to help identify strategies for treating LEP patients.
The study found that LEP patients experience alienation and long waits because of language barriers and that social and economic factors exacerbated LEP patients' obstacles to care. According to the study, some LEP patients delay or forego medical appointments because of language barriers.
However, the study notes that an electronic interpretation system is helping health care providers treat residents who speak Spanish and Tagalog.
The study recommends that the county:
- Undertake a countywide evaluation of language services that health care organizations offer;
- Draft consistent guidelines for treating LEP patients;
- Expand translation services;
- Offer professional translation training for bilingual personnel; and
- Create a plan to improve access to language services for LEP patients.
County officials said the study was based on a survey of 150 LEP county residents, site visits and interviews with about 400 community and county health care organization personnel (Carpenter, San Francisco Examiner, 10/18). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.