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Is language a barrier for quality care in hospitals? A case series from an Emergency Department of a teaching hospital in Brisbane

Mahmoud, Ibrahim, Hou, Xiang-Yu, Chu, Kevin, & Clark, Michele (2011) Is language a barrier for quality care in hospitals? A case series from an Emergency Department of a teaching hospital in Brisbane. Australasian Epidemiologist, 18(1), pp. 6-9.

Abstract

Aim: The aim of this pilot study is to describe the use of an Emergency Department (ED) at a large metropolitan teaching hospital by patients who speak English or other languages at home.

Methods: All data were retrieved from the Emergency Department Information System (EDIS) of this tertiary teaching hospital in Brisbane. Patients were divided into two groups based on the language spoken at home: patients who speak English only at home (SEO) and patients who do not speak English only or speak other language at home (NSEO). Modes of arrival, length of ED stay and the proportion of hospital admission were compared among the two groups of patients by using SPSS V18 software.

Results: A total of 69,494 patients visited this hospital ED in 2009 with 67,727 (97.5%) being in the SEO group and 1,281 (1.80%) in the NSEO group. The proportion of ambulance utilisation in arrival mode was significantly higher among SEO 23,172 (34.2%) than NSEO 397 (31.0%), p <0.05. The NSEO patients had longer length of stay in the ED (M = 337.21, SD = 285.9) compared to SEO patients (M= 290.9, SD = 266.8), with 46.3 minutes (95%CI 62.1, 30.5, p <0.001) difference. The admission to the hospital among NSEO was 402 (31.9%) higher than SEO 17,652 (26.6%), p <0.001.

Conclusion: The lower utilisation rates of ambulance services, longer length of ED stay and higher hospital admission rates in NSEO patients compared to SEO patients are consistent with other international studies and may be due to the language barriers.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 52159
Item Type: Journal Article
ISSN: 1327-8835
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > CLINICAL SCIENCES (110300) > Emergency Medicine (110305)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Health Care Administration (111709)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Health Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Deposited On: 19 Jul 2012 16:28
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2012 12:06

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