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J Immigr Minor Health. 2009 Dec;11(6):527-30. doi: 10.1007/s10903-008-9188-5. Epub 2008 Sep 23.

Language barriers among patients in Boston emergency departments: use of medical interpreters after passage of interpreter legislation.

Author information

1
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Since 2001, Massachusetts state law dictates that emergency department (ED) patients with limited English proficiency have the right to a professional interpreter.

METHODS:

One year later, for two 24-h periods, we interviewed adult patients presenting to four Boston EDs. We assessed language barriers and compared this need with the observed use and type of interpreter during the ED visit.

RESULTS:

We interviewed 530 patients (70% of eligible) and estimated that an interpreter was needed for 60 (11%; 95% confidence interval, 7-12%) patients. The primary interpreter for these clinical encounters was a physician (30%), friend or family member age >or=18 years (22%), hospital interpreter services (15%), younger family member (11%), or other hospital staff (17%).

CONCLUSIONS:

We found that 11% of ED patients had significant language barriers, but use of professional medical interpreters remained low. One year after passage of legislation mandating access, use of professional medical interpreters remained inadequate.

PMID:
18810638
PMCID:
PMC3469318
DOI:
10.1007/s10903-008-9188-5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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