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To complete the cultural presentation, I participated in the Red Group that involved five class members. Together, we decided to do our cultural presentation on the Hispanic Culture. My role in the cultural presentation was to research and present communication practices among the Hispanic Culture. According to the US Census Bureau, 18% of the population is Hispanic, making Hispanic Americans the largest ethnic minority group in the United States. Arizona is one of many states with more than 1 million Hispanic residents and Spanish is the main language they speak.
In 2016, the US Census Bureau reported that 72.4% of Hispanics speak Spanish in their homes and only 57.5% speak English “very well” (US Census Bureau, 2018). Those who speak little or no English are labeled as LEP (Limited English Proficiency) patients. Patients who are LEP have a language barrier that can greatly impact their safety and quality of care. According to the Joint Commission, from 1995 to 2002, 65% of adverse events that led to death or serious physical/psychological injury were the result from a communication error.
Communication errors lead to misdiagnosis, misinterpreting patient concerns, pointless testing, poor patient compliance, satisfaction, and inappropriate follow-ups (The Joint Commission, 2015). AARP reports that 6 in every 10 Hispanic patients have had difficulty communicating with a health care professional due to a culture or language barrier, which causes Hispanics to turn to outside sources for help. When asked to find a nursing home, assisted living facility, or home health aid for older Hispanics, less than half say it’s easy for them to find one with Spanish speaking staff (Swanson & Contreras, 2018).
As nurses, we play a huge role in providing language assistance to these patients. The first thing we must do when we get a new patient is to ask them what language they prefer to speak and read. The law requires us to provide language assistance to LEP patients. A denial or delay in care is considered discrimination in this matter. We must record any language assistance service we use in the medical record. There are many tools we can use to provide language assistance and it’s our role as nurses to determine which one is best for our patient. We can match patients with a qualified bilingual staff member or clinician, we can use an interpreter, or we can use a telephone or video interpreting service (Wilson, 2013).
A family member or friend is the wrong way to interpret what a patient is trying to communicate. They will hear private information, which breaks the privacy and confidentiality of our patient. A family member may also give you false or inaccurate information. Children should never be used as interpreters (US Department of Health & Human Services, 2015). Summary of Article The Joint Commission addresses the importance of providing care to patients who speak little or no English in the 2015 article, “Overcoming the Challenges of Proving Care to LEP Patients”.
A patient who speaks little or no English is known as an LEP patient, or limited English proficiency. According to the article, 20% of the United States population speaks another language and 8.6% fall under the category of LEP. The Joint Commission states that the language barrier greatly impacts the quality and safety of care with LEP patients. LEP patients experience a higher risk for adverse events, infections, pressure ulcers, falls, surgical delays, lengthier hospital stays, and readmissions. When you communicate effectively you are allowing the patient to be involved with their own care, this is especially important during the consent process. The Joint Commission states, “In order for communication to be effective, the information provided must be complete, accurate, timely, unambiguous, and understood by the patient” (The Joint Commission, 2015).
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