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J Immigr Minor Health. 2012 Aug;14(4):602-7. doi: 10.1007/s10903-011-9532-z.

Comparison of throughput times for limited English proficiency patient visits in the emergency department between different interpreter modalities.

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  • 1Section of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, The Children's Hospital, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, CO, USA.


Appropriate interpretation is imperative for families with limited English proficiency (LEP). We compared throughput times for ED visits involving families with LEP based on type of interpretation provided: in-person interpretation, remote telephonic interpretation or bilingual providers. This study is a secondary analysis of a prospective study of caretaker satisfaction with different interpreter modalities. We queried the medical record for event time stamps, clinical factors and disposition. The in-person cohort (116 min) had a significantly shorter total throughput time than telephonic (141 min) and bilingual provider (153 min) cohorts (P < 0.0001), due to a difference in time seen by provider to disposition. Time seen by provider to disposition remained statistically significantly shorter for the in-person cohort when compared to telephonic interpretation when controlling for potential confounders such as admission rate (P = 0.006). In-person interpretation significantly decreased ED throughput times and may be an important consideration in the choice of interpreter modality.

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