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When Hospital Patient & Doctor Speak Same Language, Outcomes Improve
  • By Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter
  • Posted July 11, 2022

When Hospital Patient & Doctor Speak Same Language, Outcomes Improve

It's already hard enough to understand all your doctor's technical talk -- now imagine speaking a whole other language on top of that.

Hospital patients who don't speak the same language as their doctor get worse care and are more likely to die, a new Canadian study shows.

Research done in Ontario -- a linguistically diverse part of Canada -- showed that French-speaking people who were treated by a doctor who also speaks French had 24% lower odds of dying in a hospital.

The results were even more striking for English speakers, who had 54% lower odds of death when treated by someone who spoke their language.

"These are staggering findings that make a strong case for providing care in the same language for linguistic minorities in hospitals," said co-author Dr. Peter Tanuseputro, a physician scientist at The Ottawa Hospital.

Unfortunately, only about 44% of French speakers in the study received care in their own language, researchers found.

The study - published July 11 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal - involved nearly 190,000 adult home care recipients who were admitted to a hospital in the province of Ontario between April 2010 and March 2018.

Nearly 3 in 5 (58%) doctors who treated the patients spoke only English, while the rest were multilingual.

"We need to do more to make sure that patients are heard and understood, whether that's by referring to physicians who speak the same language or by using interpreter services," said lead author Emily Seale, a medical student at the University of Ottawa. "This is not only good patient-centered care, but our research shows that there are grave health consequences when it doesn't happen."

The new research echoes findings from other recent studies.

More information

The AARP has more about how to talk to your doctor.

SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association Journal, news release, July 7, 2022

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