Purpose: The purpose of this article is to review how current practices reflect language barrier as a limiting factor in non-English speaking patients in patient care and does method of translation play a role in medical error.
Method: A thorough literature search was conducted with search terms -
language barrier, interpreters, limited English, provider, translator, Google Translate, patient evaluation, Spanish. Seventeen pertinent articles were retrieved and serve as the basis for this clinical review.
Results: Objective data was limited, however evidence is provided to answer the effect language barrier has on patient care. Results discuss interpreter use, hospital expenditure due to translation, and accuracy of Google Translate.
Conclusion: Patient evaluation differs between English speakers and non-English speakers. The language barrier has been improved with the use of translation services to minimize the effect of the language barrier. Some research suggests that more diagnostic studies are ordered with non-English patients.1,2,11,12 Google translate could be a possible option for Spanish translation in a dire situation. Further studies should obtain objective data on what factors affect interpreter use, the nature of language barriers in healthcare communication, language training programs for clinicians, and developing research to overcome language barriers in healthcare.17
Carlson E. Language Barrier as a Limiting Factor in Patient Care. University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository. 2019; 1(4).
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