With more than 27 million Americans reporting Limited English Proficiency (LEP), health care organizations must face the needs of this growing population on a national level.

According to the 2011 American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau, in the United States, 60 million people (1 in 5 Americans) speak a language other than English in their home.

In the healthcare world, a common misunderstanding is that family or friends of an LEP patient can be relied upon for effectively communicating with a patient. While this method may seem efficient by allowing communication to occur immediately, it can present very serious consequences.

Hiding Information

One of the first major downfalls of using family or friends to communicate with a patient is the tendency for critical information to be hidden from healthcare workers. Often, in order to protect the patient, an individual can hide potentially troubling or illegal behaviors that could have created the health issue to begin with. They might be worried that expressing such information will get the patient in trouble, and not understand the importance of passing along such critical information.

Also, when a family or friend is involved in the communication process the patient might actually be hesitant to share incredibly personal information about their situation or behavior. It can be easier for patients to share that information with a stranger, rather than someone who they will interact with long after the medical situation.

Misleading Information

Aside from hiding information from healthcare employees, family or friends may be reluctant to pass along serious information to the patient that will enhance their care. Family and friends tend to be optimistic towards the patient and might cloud a negative prognosis that the doctors might give.

Additionally, these individuals might downplay the depth of the procedures that are required to restore the patient back to good health. The result is a situation where the patient is blind-sided by the actual result of their situation.

The Solution

A simple solution to this problem is to partner with CulturaLink, a certified and credible cultural and language services company. We provide comprehensive interpretation and translation services in more than 200 languages. Hundreds of healthcare facilities across the country use our services such as on-site, phone, and video remote interpretation as well as document translation daily.