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Joint Commission to address diversity issues
A new report from The Joint Commission recommends targeted strategies to address language and cultural issues that increasingly pose challenges to hospitals seeking to deliver safe, effective care to an increasingly diverse American population.
The recommendations in "Hospitals, Language, and Culture: A Snapshot of the Nation, Compiled List of Resources" result from a study of how 60 hospitals across the country are providing health care to culturally and linguistically diverse patient populations. The project examined the challenges of providing care and services to populations that may not speak the same language or share the same customs, how hospitals are addressing these challenge, and promising practices that can be used by hospitals across the country.
The recommendations include establishing a centralized program to coordinate services relating to language and culture as a part of the organization's commitment to quality. Other recommendations for hospital leadership include a visible commitment to culturally and linguistically appropriate care and fostering internal discussions among all disciplines about this issue. Additional research is encouraged to understand what motivates hospital leaders to embrace culturally and linguistically appropriate care.
With regard to patient safety, The Joint Commission says hospitals should formalize their processes for translating patient education materials, such as patient rights and informed consent documents, into languages other than English and should use health care interpreters and cultural brokers to facilitate communication and education. Other recommendations include sensitizing caregivers and staff about the tendency to make unwarranted assumptions about patients (stereotyping); greater discussion of issues related to culture and language that can affect patient safety; expansion of a Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal to specifically address diverse populations, particularly those with language and communication barriers; and use of adverse event data to examine language, race, and ethnicity in patient safety.
The report is available at no cost at The Joint Commission web site at www.jointcommission.org.