Professional Interpreter Use Among Limited English Proficiency Patients and Outcomes Related to Use of Professional Interpreter Services
Effective communication between patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) and healthcare providers is essential for safeguarding patient health. The primary objective of this study is to better understand LEP patient preferences regarding professional interpreter use in the Emergency Department (ED). This study was conducted in the ED at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. LEP patients were asked to complete a questionnaire in their native language. Research assistants were responsible for distributing and collecting the questionnaire. Of the 210 patients enrolled, 62.8% of the subjects were aware that interpreting services are available and 55% of subjects knew these services were free. 50% of the patients that declined a professional interpreter did so because they used a family member to interpret or because the patient believed their English was sufficient. Of the subjects that were discharged from the ED, 52.6% of Spanish-speaking subjects and 8.3% of Arabic-speaking subjects were given discharge instructions in their preferred language. In general, LEP patients did not indicate a preference regarding using a professional interpreter for their medical care. A significant number of LEP patients are unaware of professional interpreter services and many LEP patients do not receive medical paperwork in their preferred language.
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