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Using language access services

Mrs. Kim and her daughter are fluent in Korean and have limited English speaking skills. Her 12 year old daughter Meghan has an appointment scheduled with Dr. Coleman where she will find out she needs surgery. Due to the limited English proficiency, Dr. Coleman is worried about communicating properly with his patients. Laura, the nurse, suggests using Language Access Services to ensure proper communication.

0:00 Sara is sitting at the front desk. Dr. Coleman approaches the desk.

0:01 [Dr. Coleman] Sara, hi. Who do I have coming in this afternoon?

0:02 [Sara] Let me check. (Looking at computer) Meghan Kim and her mother are coming in at 4:00. Apparently while Meghan is bilingual, her mother Mrs. Kim has very limited English. The nurse noted they had to use an interpreter for her because they had trouble communicating.

0:18 [Dr. Coleman] Hmm. that could be a problem.

0:20 [Sara] And now Meghan is going to have to find out that she needs to have surgery. (Pauses) That's quite a lot to handle for 12 year old.

0:27 [Dr. Coleman] There has to be a better way to communicate with patients who have trouble understanding and speaking English.

0:34 [Laura] Dr. Coleman, Sara - I'm sorry to interrupt but I overheard the last part of your conversation about Limited English Proficient, or LEP patients. People bring in family members and friends, or even bring in children to interpret for them, but those unofficial interpreters usually don't have the knowledge or training to convey medical information between a doctor and their patients. This can lead to incorrect treatment and can even be harmful to the patient in emergency situations. One thing we might want to consider for this office is using Language Access Services, or LAS.

1:17 [Sara] Yes, I've heard of LAS - an office hires an outside trained medical interpreters to assist with communication between the provider and the patient, right?

1:25 [Laura] That's right, and you may or may not know that LAS is required by law. Any organization that receives federal funds, like ours, must provide Language Access Services. Of course - it does take an initial financial investment. But studies have shown that using LAS reduces costs in the long term by reducing the length of patient visits so that we can see more patients each day and allowing more resources to be managed. In long term, we can offer printing materials in English and Spanish, like our surgical instructions and post-op care information. Dr. Coleman, you and your fellow surgeons can use online medical translation services when you are writing a prescription for diagnosis. It is also crucial that we provide all of the informed consent forms in the most common languages seen in this office. Let me also get the number for interpreter services. Give them a call before the Kim's come in and see if you can get a Korean interpreter present for your appointment today.

2:36 [Dr. Coleman] Thanks, I'll be sure to do that.