The American Population is Evolving:
The demographics in the United States has changed, the population which once seemed as though all originated from the same area, is now peppered with an abundance of diversity. The development of such a diversified modern day society, has left workers in healthcare facilities across the United States scrambling to efficiently provide care for limited English proficient (LEP) patients. Commonly encountered language barriers are preventing medical staff from understanding, communicating and providing proper quality care to patients who are considered LEP. Should the language one speaks determine how they’re cared for in a medical situation? It does for LEP individuals throughout this nation who are at risk of receiving a lower quality of medical care than English speakers, simply because they don’t speak English. In 2013, 25.1 million people living in the US were considered LEP, which equates to 8% of the population not being able to speak, read or write English fluently. Between the years of 1990 and 2013, the LEP population significantly grew 80% from nearly 14 million to 25.1 million. Healthcare facilities are witnessing first hand the implications caused by language barriers on a daily basis. Improving and implementing language access plans in medical facilities is essential to ensuring that the language a person speaks does not determine the quality of care they’re provided.
Healthcare facilities everywhere are now held accountable by law to provide their LEP and deaf patients with meaningful access to health services. This means that any facility receiving federal funding is required to provide language services when requested. “Are You Required to Provide a Sign Language Interpreter?” describes in depth the legislations which have to be followed regarding providing LEP and deaf patients with the language services they so desperately need. Partnering with a language service provider is the only way to gain access to quality interpretation services and stay within the confines of the law. “Interpretation Services Provided by Children and Family Members,” explains how unqualified individuals pose a danger when providing interpretation services for friends or family members in a medical situation. There are many things that can go wrong when treating patients, time is of the essence and every move is critical. It’s important when the added stressor of a language barrier is thrown in the mix, that there is a known plan that medical staff can rely on to help in jumping this hurdle.
Hire a Language Service Provider:
Allowing patients to receive substandard care based on the language they speak alone puts you and your health care facility at risk to break the law, face malpractice as well as be hit with costly lawsuits that could put you out of business. “Interpretation Services Can Help in Preventing Medical Malpractice,” gives you real life examples of the horrors faced when language barriers prevent vital communication from taking place in medical settings. There is no need to view the diversity in the US as negative, with change comes complications and there are always solutions for complications. Partnering with a language service provider is the best solution and the only way to ensure you’re providing all of your patients with the superior care they deserve. Your language service provider will help you in setting up a customized language access plan that can be utilized by all medical staff in your facility to help in bridging language gaps.
Implementing Language Access Strategies:
There are a number of strategies you can incorporate into your healthcare facility that can help you better care for the LEP patients you’re interacting with. Adopting, implementing, and staying on top of the duties accompanied with providing quality healthcare to your LEP patients is the key in preventing the potentially life threatening dangers faced when dealing with language barriers in healthcare. If you’re actively searching for a professional language service provider to partner with, Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is worth checking out. They have contributed to the tireless efforts of bridging language gaps in hospitals in the US for over 20 years. The quality and accuracy in interpretation services provided by Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is what you need to help you and your medical staff communicate with LEP patients. The following list gives you an idea of what a language access plan would provide for your facility.
- Tips: During registration, asking the patient questions like, “What language would you prefer to use when discussing your medical concerns?” is a great way to start off on the right foot when interacting with an LEP patient. Avoid asking, “Do you speak English?” this puts people on defense, LEP individuals are aware not speaking English puts them at risk for more complications. Having a laminated card that lists countries and displays their associated flags is a great idea so people can point to the language they speak by referencing the flag. This is the information you need in order to access the correct interpreter.
- Access: Setup easy access to the language services that you choose to utilize in your healthcare facility. “Comparing On-Site, VRI and Telephonic Interpretation Services for Hospital Use,” is an informative article that compares the various interpretation services and graphs the benefits of each in a medical setting. If you plan to use telephone interpretation, give all employees access to the number to use to contact an interpreter via the telephone, also program the number in all phones in the facility for quick access. Telephone interpreters can be accessed in two minutes or less any time you call for telephone services through Niki’s Int’l Ltd. For video remote interpreting (VRI) services, obtain all the equipment needed prior and allow all medical staff access, VRI services can be accessed within five minutes or less for on-demand service.
- Education: Educating all staff members on ways to access interpretation services as well as how to use the equipment required for each is mandatory if you want your employees to utilize the services. Once everyone is familiar with the process they will grow comfortable in using the aid on a regular basis. If people are not aware of how to properly use or access the interpretation services they are less likely to use them in turn putting you at more of a risk.
- Accountability: Holding yourself and your medical staff responsible for incorporating and continuing the use of interpretation services can help you keep your medical facility out of harm’s way for years to come. Working with the right people and finding a solution to the issue is easy, following through and implementing strategies on a daily basis is more difficult. That is why it’s imperative that you hold yourself and your medical staff accountable for the duties associated with accommodating patients of all nationalities and cultures.
Putting systems in place in order to provide the proper service, at all times, to all LEP and deaf patients without exception, can easily be accomplished with Niki’s Int’l Ltd. in your corner. They are fully capable of providing your medical facility with the language services needed in order to effectively care for LEP patients while remaining compliant with laws such as, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which all aim to serve the needs of people with disabilities, and prohibit discrimination. Allowing your LEP patients to fall through the cracks when it comes to medical care is not an option. Reduce the risk of harming a person and putting your facility at risk by providing meaningful access to language services in your healthcare facility through partnering with a language service provider.
Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise with 21 years of language service experience. A global network of highly skilled interpreters and translators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for on-site, telephonic and video remote interpretation services. Our linguists are available in over 350 languages and dialects, and our network includes certified interpreters and translators. Our work is guaranteed with a $1 Million Errors & Omissions policy, so that you can be confident that your project will be completed with the highest level of quality and professionalism within the field. For more information contact us at 1-877-567-8449 or visit our website at www.nilservices.com.