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Nurs Outlook. 2007 Nov-Dec;55(6):311-7.

The assessment and documentation of language and communication needs in healthcare systems: current practices and future directions for coordinating safe, patient-centered care.

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Alegent Health, Center for Nursing Excellence, 11128 John Galt Boulevard, Suite 410, Omaha, NE 68137-2321, USA.


Several issues surface when one considers the task of unpacking health disparities and examining features of health care systems that influence patient access, utilization, and outcomes. Although progress has been made in the collection of language data across healthcare systems, little attention has been devoted to examining how a patient's English proficiency and the need for interpretation services are being determined, and how this information is communicated to providers. A lack of a standardized approach to these system-based processes exposes potential limitations in the ability of systems and providers to effectively coordinate care that meets patients' needs and minimizes disparate outcomes. Attention must be given to standardizing these processes to ensure safe, patient-centered care and enable meaningful analyses of access, utilization, and outcomes across linguistically diverse populations. Nurses play a key role in developing and evaluating information systems with which accurate and reliable data can be collected, documented, retrieved, and utilized.

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