Medical Interpretation is Needed in Our Diverse Communities

In California, an assembly bill dedicated $3 million dollars to funding a study that will examine procedures and launch a medical interpretation pilot program for Medi-Cal patients. Medi-Cal is the California Medical Assistance Program; it’s California’s Medicaid program serving low-income individuals, families, seniors, people with disabilities, children in foster care, pregnant women, and childless adults with incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level. Tony Cava, a spokesman for the California Department of Health Care Services said, “We’re working with our stakeholders as we lay the groundwork for this effort. Some of the steps include hiring internal support staff, creating budgets and work plans, and beginning to work to hire an external vendor.” Toni Atkins, an assemblywoman, stated at the time of the bill signing “7 million Californians speak English less than very well.”

According to the Census Bureau Regarding Languages Spoken in the Los Angeles Metro Area

  • At least 192 languages are spoken at home.
  • 38 % of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Bengali, with 105,765 speakers.

San Francisco Metro Area

  • At least 163 languages are spoken at home.
  • 40 % of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home.
  • One of the smaller language groups found there is Panjabi, with 19,985 speakers.

The census reveals that four jurisdictions (California, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, and New Mexico) are now majority minority states. In five states

(California, Hawaii, New Mexico, New York, and Texas) more than 10 % of residents are limited English proficient (LEP). Medical interpretation services should be offered in every healthcare facility nationwide, especially in healthcare facilities located in areas heavily populated with LEP individuals. Having the ability to communicate is invaluable when treating and caring for patients. Interpretation services provided in medical settings aid in reducing dangerous errors caused by language barriers, improve the patient/provider relationship, shorten the length of stay for the patient, and help to provide better care through effective communication. The United States is a melting pot of diversity as there are over 350 languages spoken throughout the country. Due to this linguistic mix, LEP individuals and healthcare workers are consistently facing language barriers that interfere with providing and receiving proper patient care.

Solutions to Combat Language Barriers Faced by Healthcare Workers

The issue of healthcare facilities having access to language services has grown as more and more people migrate to the United States. Healthcare workers have growing concerns regarding providing medical care without language services for LEP patients. This is due to the large amount of medical malpractice cases being filed, in which language barriers prevented proper communication from taking place. Not having a professional medical interpreter present to facilitate communication opens the door to putting LEP patients at risk of receiving substandard care. There is no single solution to combat the growing issue, but strategies should be tailored to the needs of specific communities and the LEP patient populations within them.

The first step that must take place is for healthcare facilities to partner with a language service provider and set up a tailored language access plan that will benefit the needs of providers and the LEP patients they care for. Language services can be easily accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a weeks through on-demand telephonic or video remote interpretation services. Adopting, implementing, and staying on top of the duties accompanied with providing quality healthcare to LEP patients is key in preventing potentially life threatening dangers faced when dealing with language barriers. If communication is not clear and language barriers are not fully bridged then patient care is compromised, errors are made, and adverse consequences can potentially be faced due to a miscommunication. The implementation of a high quality language access plan, provided by professional language service company, can ensure better care for LEP patients and protection against liability for healthcare facilities.

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