In the US, 22% of the population five years old and over speak a language other than English at home. That’s approximately 67.8 million people (roughly one in five) who likely need professional language access when entering a hospital or medical facility.
Language barriers in a medical setting weaken the quality of care limited English proficient (LEP) patients receive, waste resources, and lead to high healthcare costs. If a patient cannot understand how to make or confirm an appointment, comprehend information pertaining to medication, follow-up, and discharge instructions, or know how to prepare for a surgery, their health is at risk (for surgeries that require fasting, this can be very dangerous, and can waste hospital resources). LEP patients tend to be readmitted significantly more often than English-speaking patients, or those provided with a qualified medical interpreter. CRICO Strategies medical safety experts discovered that out of 23,000 malpractice suits, 7000 resulted from failed communication. These cases amounted to $1.7 billion in malpractice costs and approximately 2000 preventable deaths.
A qualified medical interpreter ensures seamless and accurate communication between a doctor and patient. Language Services Associates (LSA) medical interpreters are highly proficient in medical terms and treatments, and can be the difference between a patient receiving the care they need or ending up back at your facility. Our medical interpreters will make sure that patients understand how to prepare for surgery, their discharge/aftercare instructions, and directions for prescribed medication. LSA’s interpreters ensure that language and cultural barriers do not get in the way of proper care. Our customizable services guarantee cost effective solutions, efficient communication, and culturally accurate translation & localization to meet your needs.
How Qualified Interpreters Affect Readmissions and Lengths of Stay
The National Library of Medicine did a study where researchers were tasked with investigating the differences in lengths of stay and readmission rates among limited English proficient (LEP) patients. 3071 patients were divided into those receiving professional interpretation at admission or discharge, and those not receiving professional interpretation at all. They found that approximately 15% of patients receiving professional interpretation were readmitted within 30 days, while 24% of patients who were not provided a professional interpreter were readmitted within the same time frame – that’s a 9% difference. A professional interpreter was also the key difference in the average length of stay. Patients provided with a professional interpreter stayed for approximately two and a half days, while those patients without access to a professional interpreter stayed an average of around five days.
The Financial Impact of Readmissions
In a separate study, the National Library of Medicine found that higher readmission numbers impact a hospital’s finances, noting that profits are reduced when a provider’s resources are further utilized. Readmissions that could be avoided with the use of a professional interpreter incur unnecessary costs. Under programs created by the Affordable Healthcare Act, the federal government cuts payments to hospitals with high readmission rates, high numbers of infections, and patient injuries. And regarding readmissions, Medicare cuts as much as 3% per patient as part of its readmission penalty system. In addition to these cuts, transparency in reporting a hospital’s readmissions can lead to potential patients going elsewhere for their care due to the impact these rates can have on a hospital’s reputation.
Reduce Readmissions, Build Trust, and Improve Patient Care with LSA
LSA’s medical interpreters are carefully vetted and undergo an extensive assessment process, ensuring they have a deep knowledge of medical terminology, treatments, and diagnoses. They’re compliant with all laws and regulations regarding privacy, and they have the cultural knowledge and sensitivity to accurately render both verbal and non-verbal communication in a hospital setting. They help foster clear communication for improved understanding of prescription and treatment plans, ultimately reducing extended hospital stays and adverse consequences, while decreasing the cost of care and litigation risks. They reduce disparities in health equity for LEP patients, and build trust between a patient and their family with a physician or medical team.
Learn more about LSA’s medical interpreters and translation solutions to reduce readmission rates, protect your facility’s reputation, and ensure your LEP patients receive the care they deserve.
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Language Services Associates (LSA) offers a full suite of language interpretation solutions to help optimize the experience of limited English proficient customers and patients. Providing native language support improves the efficiency and productivity of staff, raises customer satisfaction levels, and builds loyalty. For thousands of clients worldwide, in more than 230 languages, LSA provides a competitive differentiator in the healthcare, government, financial and banking, insurance, entertainment, hospitality, and manufacturing industries.