Recognizing the Need for Language Services:

During a recent visit to the emergency room I spoke with a nurse regarding the frequency in which she enlists the aid of an interpreter in order to provide care to limited English proficient (LEP) patients. She told me she calls for an interpreter at least a few times per day, she also said the hospital only has a Spanish interpreter on staff, however she encounters a variety of languages and dialects. The number of LEP individuals living in the United States has grown 81% since 1990. There are 25.3 million LEP individuals, both foreign and U.S. born, living in the United States. The US is a massive mix of linguistic and cultural diversity, there are people living and thriving here from all over the world. As people continue to establish residency in this country, changes in how hospitals provide healthcare are being made in order to combat language barriers frequently faced in healthcare settings. Effective patient-provider communication is mandatory for proper care to be provided, when language barriers are present a strain is placed on that communication which leaves room for potentially dangerous outcomes. A single misunderstood word can have major consequences, every interaction must be completely precise and accurate. Poor interpretation in medical settings can lead to patient harm and possibly malpractice. Understanding the consequences that can be faced when language barriers are present puts a greater emphasis on the importance of effective communication with LEP patients.

An Apparent Need for Language Services in the United States:

In an UC Berkeley study, healthcare providers discussed the impact of language barriers within healthcare facilities. The study reviewed 35 individual cases, 90% were not provided with language services during the time of emergency. In 12 cases, family members or young children were asked to interpret. “The cases resulted in many patients suffering death and irreparable harm. Two children and three adults died. In one case, the deceased child was used as an interpreter before suffering respiratory arrest. In another, the deceased child’s 16-year-old sibling was used as the interpreter. One patient was rendered comatose, one underwent a leg amputation, and a child suffered major organ damage.”

Incorporating Language Services into Everyday Use:

Language barriers prevent patient-provider communication from taking place, the only way to ensure communication is facilitated is through the use of a professional interpreter. An interpreter aids in creating meaningful interactions through understanding and trust which allows the exchange of important information. Allowing LEP patients access to language services can positively influence their experience and increase the quality of care they are provided with. Partnering with a language service company (LSC) is the first step in facing the issue head on. Niki’s Int’l Ltd., a language service company (LSC), has been bridging language gaps in hospitals throughout the US for over 20 years. The quality and accuracy in interpretation services provided by Niki’s Int’l Ltd. allows medical staff the ability to communicate with LEP patients with ease. Language services such as on-site interpretation, over-the-phone interpretation (OPI) and video remote interpreting (VRI) allow communication to be facilitated regardless of the language you speak.

Implementing the duties accompanied with providing quality healthcare to LEP patients is key in preventing potentially life threatening dangers faced when language barriers are present. Providing language services to LEP patients should be a protocol within all hospitals. Educating medical staff on how to access an interpreter allows them to feel comfortable with using language services for every LEP patient interaction. If communication is not clear and language barriers are not fully bridged, patient care is compromised, errors can be made, and adverse consequences can be faced due to a misinterpretation. Taking the precautions that aid in avoiding the risks associated with language barriers can only be accomplished through providing professional language services. When communication is clear and transparent, patients can be provided with the the best care possible and are more likely to have a better outcome and experience when seeking medical care. Improving LEP patient care is easily accomplished through a partnership with Niki’s Int’l Ltd., they can provide your hospital with the language services needed to provide quality care to every patient.

Niki’s Int’l Ltd. is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise with 20 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

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