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Language barriers for Hispanic patients

Health comes first therefore it is one of everyone’s main concerns. Understanding medical diagnoses, treatment, and procedures is crucial for everybody, and not being able to comprehend, due to the language barrier, can affect medical treatment.

“I am always worrying about who’s coming with me to my next doctors’ appointment. Whether one of my sons or daughters are available to come with me so they can translate,” said Ciro Hernandez , 81.Hernandez has been  trapped in the same situation  since he first came to this country thirty years ago. He believes that his relationship with doctors is not as strong, as it used to be back in his  native country, due to the language barrier.

“I do not only experience difficulties at every appointment but I also have a hard time reading my prescriptions,” explains Ciro.

According to the studies, conducted by the Division of General Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, the foundation of primary care is in the physician-patient relationship. This relationship is affected by the language barrier which makes the patient feel that their physician does not understand them.

Meanwhile, Josefa Hernandez 78, resides in an area that’s highly populated by Hispanics in New Jersey. She has not experienced the lack of communication with her doctors. “Every since I came to this country the majority of my doctors speak Spanish perfectly therefore I was able to communicate with them, I do not think I would have the same relationship with non Spanish-speaking doctors,” said Josefa.

Time is also another enemy factor that affects patient-physician relationship because the majority of doctors might feel that they are running out of time when they have to add in additional time for the translator and patient. More attention needs to be given to the translation process.

“As health care professional it’s difficult ,from time to time, to deal with patients that do not speak English, most of the time we use a family member to translate questions regarding the patient health. If the family member is not present the hospital provides a translator,” explains Nurse Hesha Parekh.

In addition, it is highly demonstrated that a specific focus on explanations of medications with the help of existing translators may be helpful. Written information in Spanish has been the other option according to the studies conducted by Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

When a hospital is unable to provide a translator a patient can be non compliant with treatment, explains Parekh. “Therefore, it is important to make sure that 24 hour translation is provided. Negligence in not providing a translator can lead to the lack of understanding the patient condition.” concluded Parekh.

 By Being Latino Contributor, Vilma Sierra

About Being Latino Contributors

Being Latino contributors consists of individuals and partner organizations. They join us in our goal of providing our audience with a communication platform designed to educate, entertain and connect all peoples across the global Latino spectrum. Together we aim to break down barriers and foster unity and empowerment through informative, thought-provoking dialogue and exchanging of ideas. Giving a unified voice to the multitude of communities that identify with the multidimensional culture that is Latino.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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