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  • Improving Safety for Patients With Limited English Proficiency

    Hospitals of all types can engage in a systematic approach to better identify and prevent medical errors and adverse events that occur commonly among patients with limited English proficiency (LEP). Research available from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality makes these 5 key recommendations to improve detection of medical errors across diverse LEP populations and prevent high-risk scenarios from becoming safety events:

    • Foster a supportive culture for safety of diverse patient populations.
    • Adapt current systems to better identify medical errors among patients with LEP.
    • Improve reporting of medical errors for patients with LEP.
    • Routinely monitor patient safety for patients with LEP.
    • Address root causes to prevent medical errors among patients with LEP.

    For hospitals with resource or other limitations that preclude a full rollout of these strategies at once, the authors suggest beginning incrementally by choosing any strategies that can be readily implemented and, at a minimum, focus on addressing the root causes that lead to high-risk scenarios for medical errors among patients with LEP. 

    A case study, Bringing It to Life, highlights a breakdown in communication involving hospital staff and a 45-year-old Spanish-speaking man with type 2 diabetes who goes to the emergency department accompanied by his wife.  

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