Improving Language Access in California Hospitals


Catherine Dower, Jennifer Kaiser

Sep 2007

The move toward “cultural competence” that responds to the diversity of California’s population is reflected in efforts of California hospitals to provide linguistically appropriate care for their patients who have limited English proficiency. Legal mandates underscore this need. Health care providers do not always speak languages their patients understand, and research has confirmed that miscommunications can risk harm to patients. In 2007, the Center for the Health Professions interviewed representatives of 20 hospitals throughout California that are instituting interpretive language services to learn what services are being provided, the costs and benefits of the services, and the process by which they were established. The responses both provide information on what is being done and offer models for others to integrate into their own institutions.