Language barriers still a patient safety concern

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

February 22, 2006

The language barrier between physicians and non-English-speaking patients is a growing problem, but many hospitals have difficulty providing interpretation services. The services, however, are not overly expensive and should be covered by insurers or Medicare, according to aUSA Today editorial.

Hospitals in multi-ethnic areas have a hard time affording and maintaining a stable of qualified interpreters, according to the editorial. But the cost of providing proper interpretive services for hospitals across the country is $268 million, or $4 per non-English speaking patient.

Insurers or the federal government should cover those expenses, as language barriers can lead to delays in care and missed or incorrect diagnoses. Covering the costs would lead to fewererrors and lower healthcare costs, according to the editorial.

To read the complete editorial, click here.