Archive for October, 2012

Language Barriers

October 4, 2012 Leave a comment


The question arises over and over as to whether people who are doing the housekeeping and who are cleaning instruments and scopes have to be able to read and speak English in order to be able to read instruction manuals for the use of equipment and for cleaning equipment and scopes, and for mixing solutions, reading instrument cleaning agent labels, and reading MSDS no say nothing of emergency instructions and signs.

According to OSHA, it is not necessary for those persons to be able to read English if the information is also available to them in their language, or if there is a translator who has trained them and/or is available to translate.….you best get your applicable MSDS also in that language and you had best get the instructions on the labels on bottles for mixing, etc. in that language, too.  

Can you GUARANTEE that there will always be a translator available when needed?  

What about during the night when housekeeping is there?  Think about it.






How are you all handling your patients’ health literacy?  Health literacy includes much more than reading proficiency.  It is a person’s ability to obtain, use and understand the information given to them.  It includes English proficiency and cultural beliefs.  We, as health care professionals, need to include these in our teaching even though we are feeling rushed in our busy ambulatory surgery/endoscopy centers.  Incorporating these learning styles, cultural beliefs and language abilities will result in the patient having a more positive surgical experience as well as outcomes.

It may be that many of us complete our cultural competencies as a chore, and not incorporate the distinctions we learn into practice in taking care of our patients.  What cultural competency means is that you are open to recognizing that people’s beliefs may be different from our own and some of these beliefs may influence how patients understand their health.

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