The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

5104.0: Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 1:15 PM

Abstract #73454

Assessing the impact of language barriers on the costs and quality of health care

Chris Gibbons, MD, MPH, Urban Health Institute, Johns Hopkins University, 111 Market St., Suite 850, Baltimore, MD 21202-4036, 410-895-1104,, Angela J. Ware, PhD, COSMOS Corporation, 3 Bethesda Metro Centro, Suite 950, Bethesda, MD 20814, and Joan Jacobs, MPH, Office of Minority Health (DHHS), 1101 Wootton Parkway, Suite 600, Rockville, MD 20854.

The purpose of this project is to address cost concerns associated with the provision of interpreter services and other language assistance services (LAS) for limited English proficient (LEP) populations in health care by developing and implementing a model for examining costs associated with the provision of LAS when language barriers exist vs costs associated with medical errors when language barriers are unaddressed. The initial focus of the study is on verbal communications between physicians & patients who speak different languages during clinical encounters. The study will be advised by a panel of experts in physician-patient communications, language barriers, cultural competency, medical errors, health care quality, health care disparities, and cost-benefit analyses--who may narrow or expand the focus as deemed feasible and appropriate. The expert panel will assist in the development of a taxonomy for identifying medical errors resulting from language barriers in health care, the development and implementation of a model for assessing the costs and benefits of providing--and not providing--services to appropriately address language barriers in health care, and the development of recommendations for next steps and further study. The final product is expected to yield information to enable health plan administrators, providers, and other decision-makers to better weigh the pros and cons of providing LAS in health care. This presentation will focus on the first results of the project, including four analytical briefs developed to inform development of the taxonomy and model, the taxonomy itself, and a preliminary model for assessing costs associated with medical errors resulting from language barriers.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Cultural Competency, Health Care Quality

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Promoting Quality Health Care for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA