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Communicating With LEP Patients
The American Medical Association has released the 2nd edition of its Official Guide to Communicating with Limited-English-Proficient Patients [608 KB PDF]. It’s a very brief guide — only 11 pages of text in a foldover 8 1/2″ by 5 1/2″ booklet — but it’s packed full of very practical information covering questions like:
- What does the term “LEP” mean?
- How do I know if I have LEP patients in my practice?
- How do language barriers affect quality of care and patient safety?
- What is the relationship between language assistance and cultural competency?
- What current and emerging strategies exist that can help physicians care for LEP patients?
- How should physician offices handle telephone calls to and from LEP patients?
- What can your office do to improve access to services for LEP patients?
- How can physician offices finance language assistance services?
Besides its own practical information, the booklet also includes useful references to further information, including:
- The Cross-Cultural Health Care Program
- National Center for Cultural Competence [note: the URL in the booklet is incorrect; this is a correct link]
- National Health Law Program – see their Library of Resources on Cultural and Linguistic Access to Health Care
- The Addressing Language Access Toolkit by the California Academy of Family Physicians
- The Health Care Language Services Implementation Guide by the HHS Office of Minority Health
Table 1 of that booklet (p. 4) emphasizes that bilingual health-care practitioners provide an option with high interpreting quality and a high patient comfort level, that is appropriate for all healthcare settings. This September 2007 article from NurseZone describes the success of one such program at the University of California-Davis Medical Center that includes nurses who are fluent not only in English, but also in Spanish, Russian, or Hmong.