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Language Barriers Put Patients at Risk for Wrong Prescriptions

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Nearly 52 million Americans speak a non-English language at home, and 23 million Americans have limited English proficiency (LEP). Language barriers can result in adverse consequences in health care, but little is known about whether pharmacies provide sufficient care to patients with LEP.

In the study, “Language Barriers to Prescriptions for Patients With Limited English Proficiency: A Survey of Pharmacies,” 175 Milwaukee pharmacies were evaluated on their ability to provide non-English prescription labels, information packets, and verbal communication skills. Results found that almost half of the pharmacists were dissatisfied with their pharmacy’s communication with patients who have LEP, and 11 percent rely on patients’ family or friends for interpretation. About half of the pharmacies never/sometimes can provide non-English language (NEL) prescription labels or information packets, and about two-thirds never/ sometimes can orally communicate in NELs. Suggestions for improving patient communication included hiring bilingual staff or using telephone interpreter services when in-person interpreters are unavailable.(Source: Pediatrics : American Academy of Pediatrics : August 2007)

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Posted On: 21 August, 2007
Modified On: 16 January, 2014

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