In their study, van Rose and her colleagues
(2016) investigated the risks involved in patient safety caused by language
barriers during their hospitalization period. Moreover, they explored how language
barriers were detected, reported, and bridged in Dutch hospital care. In their
methodology, they combined quantitatitve and qualitative research approaches in
a sample of 576 ethnic minority in-patients. There were a total of 30 wards
within four urban hospitals in Denmark. Nursing and medical records of
concerned patients were reviewed and analyzed. Supplemental, yet, in-depth
interviews with healthcare providers and in-patients were also conducted. The
outputs, or data collected, were compared to patients’ self-reported Dutch
language proficiency. Experts in language interpreters also aided in data
analysis and interpretation. As a result, the researchers found that certain
hospital care situations where there is language barrier include
nursing-related activities such as administering drugs, pain and fluid balance
management, and patient-doctor conversations (regarding diagnosis, risk
communications and acute situations). More often, the relatives and significant
others of these patients served as interpreters. In such cases, professional
interpreters were not much used which could mean that professional interpreters
were not as effective (as expected) to help in resolving
language-barrier-related patient safety issues. These situations showed that
risks were possible in hospitals with patients who experience language barriers
for this gap could be serious when timeliness and promptness of delivering
healthcare services of addressing patient’s needs is considered. In relation to
this, the authors highlighted detecting and reporting a language barrier. As a
general comment on this article, even if the nurse has a competent level of
knowledge and skills, he or she would not still be able to deliver quality care
if he or she does not fully understand what the patient says and needs. Therefore,
finding appropriate solutions regarding language barriers experienced by
in-patients should be one of the major foci of a healthcare institution’s
policy reviews and updates as far as communication-related problems is
concerned.In a cohort research conducted by Schwei and her
fellow researchers, they considered that language barriers in healthcare is a
worldwide concern particularly in countries like Europe, Australia and Canada
(other than the United States). These states have one thing in common –
immigrants who experience language barriers in healthcare settings. In 2003,
the Bush administration has implemented a change in US’ services for LEP
(limited English proficiency) individuals. From this perspective, they aimed to
(a) describe the state of the language barrier literature in and out of the US
(from 2003 to 2010) and (b) compare studies which were conducted before and
after such policy change by the Bush administration (2003). In addition, literature
and studies outside US were reviewed to assess the global trends. Mainly literature
review was employed in their design and methods. They had two-phase review.
Phase 1 only included annotated bibliographies of 2003 (starting 1974, prior to
Bush’ implementation of changes) and phase 2 involved reviews from 2003 to 2011
(after Bush’ implementation of changes). Furthermore, criteria and parameters
set in search and classification are similar in both phases. In their result, they
found that the areas highlighted in their review included (a) access barrier,
(b) comparison study, (c) interpreting practices, (d) outcomes, and (e) patient
satisfaction. Most of these were descriptive in origin. As they expected,
studies focusing on language barriers have increased (since 2003) and this
could be attributed to the policy change by the Bush administration. Also, literatures
and studies in terms perspectives in dealing with clients who have language
barriers, the researchers revealed that it is more physician-focused within the
US but nurse-focused outside the US. As recommended in their study, problems
pertaining to language barriers in healthcare delivery system around the world
must be well-documented in order to accurately identify the problem and provide
evidence-based solutions. 

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