Parents' Limited English May Prolong Child's Hospital
THURSDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- Children have longer
hospital stays if their parents or other main caregivers have poor
English language skills, a U.S. study finds.
The research, published in the May issue of the
Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, included almost 1,300 children admitted to a children's hospital in the Midwest for treatment of infections requiring long-term antibiotics.
Among the parents or primary caregivers of those children, about
97 percent were proficient in English and the rest had limited
English proficiency. The parents/caregivers with poorer English
were more likely to be Hispanic and either uninsured or covered by
The median length of hospital stay for all patients was about
four days, but was about six days for children with less fluent
parents, said the researchers from Children's Mercy Hospitals and
Clinics in Kansas City, Mo.
The study also found that children of parents with
less-than-proficient English were less likely to receive a home
health care referral than those with English-proficient parents
(6.9 percent vs. 32.6 percent).
The researchers noted that a language other than English is now
spoken in 14 million U.S. households by more than 55 million --
about one in five -- U.S. residents. Nearly half of those people
say they have limited English proficiency or speak English less
As this group continues "growing exponentially, the medical
community must ensure that all patients with [limited English
proficiency] receive adequate interpreter services," the study
authors concluded. "Increasing the number and quality of trained
medical interpreters and translators, improving the infrastructure
for a multilingual approach to care, and further minimizing
multi-tiered care based on language are important areas for
The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality outlines
improve access to language services in health
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