Patients with language barriers take almost twice as long to get to the hospital

May 12, 2011

Researchers analyzed English comprehension among 210 patients at four New York City hospitals who suffered heart attacks with a heart artery completely blocked. Doctors often refer to this type of heart attack as a STEMI, for ST-elevation myocardial infarction.

In follow-up telephone interviews, 34 of the patients (16.2 percent) spoke no English (65 percent spoke Spanish; 6 percent Russian; 6 percent Chinese; 23 percent spoke another language).

The patients who reported they understood no English took almost twice as long to get to the hospital compared to those who considered their English fluency fair or good. Adjusting for age, gender, ethnicity, education level and existence of other illnesses, the inability to understand English remained a strong determinant of how long it took patients to get to the hospital.

Researchers conclude the results underscore a need for more multi-lingual education on heart attacks, symptoms and the importance of calling 9-1-1 and getting to the hospital quickly. They also recommend multi-lingual emergency lines so that non-English speakers can get the information they need quickly.

Explore further: Doctor: Patients need interpreters

Related Stories

Doctor: Patients need interpreters

July 21, 2006

A new study finds that millions of U.S. residents with limited English skills are at risk when they go to a hospital or a doctor's office.

Recommended for you

Bacteria in smokeless tobacco products may be a health concern

August 26, 2016

Several species of bacteria found in smokeless tobacco products have been associated with opportunistic infections, according to a paper published August 26 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American ...

Is tailgating toxic?

August 26, 2016

While tailgating this football season you may want to take a step back from the grill and generator—for your health.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.