California: UC Davis to improve non-English-speaking patient care

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Dec 15 13:15:53 UTC 2006

UC Davis to improve non-English-speaking patient care

Sacramento Business Journal - 11:21 AM PST Thursday

The UC Davis Health System is one of 10 hospitals and medical centers
taking part in national program to improve the quality of health care to
patients with limited English skills. The 10 hospitals were selected from
70 applicants, and each will receive a grant of up to $60,000, as well as
technical assistance and training using measures developed by The George
Washington University Department of Health Policy. The goal of the
program, Speaking Together: National Language Services Network, is to help
hospitals develop language programs that provide more effective and timely
communications with these patients.

"The quality of communication between a patient and his or her doctor is a
strong determinant of whether or not that patient receives optimal care,"
said Pamela Dickson, deputy director for the Health Care Group at the
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is funding the program. "When
language barriers exist, quality of care suffers and the chances of
medical error are higher. The result can be disparities in both the level
of care and the quality of care for non-English-speaking patients." The
16-month program will examine how these hospitals communicate with
non-English-speaking patients, and will focus on how hospital staff can
better manage language services programs. Best practices will be shared
with health professionals across the nation.

The UC Davis Health System has 44 interpreters that speak 19 languages.
About 25 percent of the hospital system's patients have limited English
proficiency. Other participants are Bellevue Hospital Center, New York;
Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, Mass.; Children's Hospital and
Regional Medical Center, Seattle; Hennepin County Medical Center,
Minneapolis;  Regions Hospital, St. Paul, Minn.; UMass Memorial Health
Care, Worcester, Mass.; Phoenix Children's Hospital, Phoenix, Ariz.;
University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, Mich.; and University of
Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, N.Y.


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