Inadequate Communication

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With 47 million people in the United States unable to speak English and 21 million people with limited English proficiency (LEP), the issue of inadequate communication has become a considerable problem for healthcare providers (U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration, 2003). This does not account for the thousands of Americans who have hearing loss and use American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary form of interaction (Mitchell, Young, Bachleda, & Karchmer, 2006). “Communication with patients is essential to providing quality medical care” (Bernard et al., 2006, p. 355). All patients deserve quality healthcare and these populations are no exception.
Patients with LEP frequently delay initial
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Words written in English may have a different connotation for those who use ASL. If a physician writes that a patient may need surgery to an individual who used sign language and did not have proficient English skills, the person might think that surgery is required in the month of May (Scheier, 2009).These written notes still need to be used cautiously with any populations, as variations in the quality of provider handwriting can lead to miscommunication. The patient needs to be asked what communication style works best for them in order to provide quality care (Scheier, 2009).Healthcare providers should also educate themselves concerning ways to decrease communication barriers and to ensure access to healthcare for all patients (Scheier, 2009).
Furthermore, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires that any institution receiving federal funding be required to provide interpretation services. The denial of medical care based on a language barrier is considered to be discriminatory. Most hospitals, home care agencies, and universities receive this funding (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). Individuals with language barriers access the healthcare system daily. On average, eighty-four percent of federally funded health clinics provide medical services each day to LEP patients, with 45 percent of these
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