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Language Barriers Bring Repeat Business to the ER for Some Conditions

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows evidence that language barriers can impede medical care when it comes to certain heart or lung conditions.


Chronic illnesses such as heart failure and COPD require more complicated management. These complex issues require more conversations and detailed self management. It goes way beyond interpreting more basic medical instructions.


Hospitals and patients should use the free, on-call interpreters and try to avoid conversing with family members, who may or may not know the proper medical terminology. Patients fared best when able to speak in their native tongue to doctors who were fluent in the same language. But this isn't always the case. There is a need for more health care providers with diverse language skills. It can be the doctor or even the discharge nurse.


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