Webinar Focuses on Safety of Patients with Limited English Proficiency

October 24, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Adverse events affect patients with limited English proficiency (LEP)—who account for 8.5% of the U.S. population—more frequently and severely, and these patients are more likely to suffer physical harm from such events. However, few resources and tools are available to address patient safety specifically in this population, said Joseph Betancourt, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Disparities Solutions Center (DSC) at Massachusetts General Hospital, during “Identifying and Preventing Medical Errors in Patients with Limited-English Proficiency: New Tools for the Field,” a webinar hosted October 16, 2012, by DSC. Betancourt spoke about the development of the new TeamSTEPPS module on serving patients with LEP and hospital guide (for more information, see the October 17, 2012, HRC Alerts), which DSC participated in. The project found that when resources are limited, the following are high-risk areas to focus on: medication reconciliation, informed consent, patient discharge, emergency department visits, and pre-, peri-, and postoperative care. In addition to use of the new TeamSTEPPS module, steps toward improvement include use of the hospital guide to gain leadership buy-in; routine and systematic collection of information on patient race, ethnicity, and language; and incorporation of this data and data on whether language or interpretation issues played a role in the event into the patient safety reporting system, Betancourt stated.

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