Moving From Knowledge to Action: Improving Safety and Quality of Care for Patients With Limited English Proficiency

Clinical Pediatrics, Volume 59, Issue 3, Page 266-277, March 2020.
Objective. This study assessed safety culture and staff communication with patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) to identify system-level approaches to increasing interpreter use and reducing health care disparities. Methods. An electronic survey and 7 focus groups were conducted with health care professionals in pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology. Survey data were examined with univariate descriptive analysis. Focus group transcripts were coded through an iterative consensus process. Results. Survey participants (n = 68) reported less confidence in their ability to communicate effectively (74%) and form therapeutic relationships (56%) with LEP patients versus English-proficient patients. Focus groups identified knowledge as a facilitator of interpreter use. Workflow constraints, supply-demand mismatch, variable interpretation quality, and gaps in communication with interpretation services management were barriers. Conclusion. Knowledge gaps may not be a primary cause of interpreter underuse. Strategies to address workflow barriers and engage with interpretation services are critical to move from knowledge to action to improve LEP patient care.

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