Lack of understanding puts immigrants at risk

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

March 8, 2006

The lack of communication and cooperation between hospitals and non-English speaking immigrants was highlighted in the New York Times' series, "Being a Patient."

The article followed the case of a Chinese immigrant, treated successfully for cancer ion 2000, but who then declined to go back to the hospital. The patient, Ming Qiang Zhao, had no identification and could not pay up front for care. As a result, he sought care from unlicensed practitioners. Zhao collapsed on the street and was treated at great expense until his death. Throughout his treatment, family members were frustrated by the lack of communication and seeming disregard of their concerns.

The article highlights many myths and rumors that keep both legal and illegal immigrants away from the hospital, including the fear that accepting free care could lead to conscription into the army for your children. Others, like Zhao, were unaware that payments could be waived.

To read the complete report, click here.