Professional Language Interpretation and Inpatient Length of Stay and Readmission Rates
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
The population of persons seeking medical care is linguistically diverse in the United States. Language barriers can adversely affect a patient’s ability to explain their symptoms. Among hospitalized patients, these barriers may lead to higher readmission rates and longer hospitalizations. Trained interpreters help overcome communication barriers; however, interpreter usage among patients is suboptimal.
To investigate differences among patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) in their length of stay (LOS) and 30-day readmission rate associated with their receiving professional interpretation at admission or discharge.
We analyzed the rates of interpretation at admission and discharge of all LEP patients admitted to a tertiary care hospital over a three-year period. We calculated length of stay in days and as log of LOS. We also examined 30-day readmission. Using multivariable regression models, we explored differences among patients who received interpretation at admission, discharge, or both, controlling for patient characteristics, including age, illness severity, language, and gender.
All LEP patients admitted between May 1, 2004 and April 30, 2007.
Length of hospital stay as related to use of professional interpreters; readmission to the hospital within 30 days.
Of the 3071 patients included in the study, 39 % received language interpretation on both admission and discharge date. Patients who did not receive professional interpretation at admission or both admission/discharge had an increase in their LOS of between 0.75 and 1.47 days, compared to patients who had an interpreter on both day of admission and discharge (P < 0.02). Patients receiving interpretation at admission and/or discharge were less likely than patients receiving no interpretation to be readmitted with 30 days.
The length of a hospital stay for LEP patients was significantly longer when professional interpreters were not used at admission or both admission/discharge.
- U.S. Census Bureau. Language use and English speaking ability. 2008.
- Flores G. The impact of medical interpreter services on the quality of health care: a systematic review. Med Care Res Rev. 2005;62(3):255–299. CrossRef
- David R, Rhee M. The impact of language as a barrier to effective health care in an underserved urban Hispanic community. Mt Sinai J Med. 1998;65:393–97.
- Baker D, Parker R, Williams M, Coates W, Pitkin K. Use and effectiveness of interpreters in an emergency department. JAMA. 1996;275:783–88. CrossRef
- Karliner L, Jacobs E, Chen A, Mutham S. Do professional interpreters improve clinical care? A systematic review of the literature. Heal Serv Res. 2007;42(2):727–754. CrossRef
- Ebden P, Bhatt A, Carey O, Harrison B. The bilingual consultation. Lancet. 1988;331(8581):347. CrossRef
- Flores G, Laws M, Mayo S, et al. Errors in medical interpretation and their potential clinical consequences in pediatric encounters. Pediatrics. 2003;111(1):6–14. CrossRef
- John-Baptiste A, Naglie G, Tomlinson G, et al. The effect of English language proficiency on length of stay and in-hospital mortality. J Gen Inter Med. 2004;19:221–228. CrossRef
- Karliner LS, Kim SE, Meltzer DO, Auerbach AD. Influence of language barriers on outcomes of hospital care for general medicine inpatients. J Hosp Med. 2010;5(5):276–282. CrossRef
- Jacobs E, Sadowski L, Rathouz P. The impact of an enhanced interpreter service intervention on hospital costs and patient satisfaction. J Gen Inter Med. 2007;22(Suppl 2):306–11. CrossRef
- Benbassat J, Taragin M. Hospital readmissions as a measure of quality of health care: Advantages and limitations. Arch Intern Med. 2000;160:1074–1081. CrossRef
- García-Pérez L, Linertová R, Lorenzo-Riera A, Vázquez-Díaz JR, Duque-González B, Sarría-Santamera A. Risk factors for hospital readmissions in elderly patients: a systematic review. QJM. 2011;104(8):639–651. CrossRef
- Baker D, Hayes R, Fortier J. Interpreter use and satisfaction with interpersonal aspects of care for Spanish-speaking patients. Med Care Res Rev. 1998;36:1461–70.
- Diamond L, Schenker Y, Curry L, Bradley E, Fernandez A. Getting by: Underuse of interpreters by resident physicians. J Gen Inter Med. 2008;24(2):256–62. CrossRef
- Professional Language Interpretation and Inpatient Length of Stay and Readmission Rates
Journal of General Internal Medicine
Volume 27, Issue 10 , pp 1294-1299
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Additional Links
- low English proficient (LEP)
- length of stay (LOS)
- Industry Sectors
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA, 01655, USA
- 2. Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA, 01655, USA