Background Patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) are subject to poorer health outcomes and improving interpreter access is a modifiable factor to improve health inequities faced by LEP patients.
Objectives To assess current interpreter provision for pediatric inpatients and their families at the IWK Health Centre by measuring the:
proportion of non-English speaking patients identified at admission who received in-person interpretation during their hospital stay
proportion of patients who received in-person interpretation who were not identified as non-English speaking at the time of admission
duration from the time of admission to the time of first interpreter encounter
Methods This was a cross-sectional study. All inpatient admissions at the IWK Health Centre from September 1, 2019 to March 1, 2021 were reviewed using admission records and the in-person interpreter database. The date, time, and duration of each admission to hospital and each interpreter encounter was used to calculate the outcome measures.
Results Of the 437 patients identified as non-English speaking on registration, 22.4% received in-person interpretation during their hospital stay, and this rate was 28.8% pre-COVID-19 pandemic (pre-March 22, 2020), and 18.42% post-COVID-19 pandemic (post-March 22, 2020), with a delta of 10.4% (95% CI 2.2%, 18.7%) (figure 1). Of the 99 patients that received in-person interpretation, 20.8% of patients were inaccurately identified as English-speaking at time of registration. The mean time to the first in-person interpreter encounter was 38.2 hours after hospital admission (SD = 59.1). Those who received in-person interpretation received a mean of 0.71 interpreter visits per hospital day (SD=0.53).
Conclusions This study offers baseline data illustrating that identification and provision of interpreter services for LEP is poor at the IWK. Based on these results, our centre will implement a universal screening question for interpreter preference at time of hospital admission as a quality improvement intervention to improve interpreter provision.
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