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Version of Record online: 9 JUN 2010
Copyright © 2010 Society of Hospital Medicine
Journal of Hospital Medicine
Volume 5, Issue 5, pages 276–282, May/June 2010
How to Cite
Karliner, L. S., Kim, S. E., Meltzer, D. O. and Auerbach, A. D. (2010), Influence of language barriers on outcomes of hospital care for general medicine inpatients. J. Hosp. Med., 5: 276–282. doi: 10.1002/jhm.658
This research was supported by a grant from the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF) Academic Senate Research Evaluation and Allocation Committee. The Multicenter Hospitalist Study was supported by grant R01 HS10597 AHRQ from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and was registered at Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT00204048. Dr. Karliner is supported by a Mentored Research Scholar Grant (MRSG-060253-01) from the American Cancer Society. Dr. Auerbach is supported by a K08 research and training grant (K08 HS11416-02) from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
The authors are unaware of any conflict of interest related to this study.
- Issue online: 9 JUN 2010
- Version of Record online: 9 JUN 2010
- Manuscript Accepted: 26 DEC 2009
- Manuscript Revised: 30 NOV 2009
- Manuscript Received: 15 SEP 2009
- continuity of care transition and discharge planning;
- quality improvement
Few studies have examined whether patients with language barriers receive worse hospital care in terms of quality or efficiency.
To examine whether patients' primary language influences hospital outcomes.
DESIGN AND SETTING:
Observational cohort of urban university hospital general medical admissions between July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2003.
Eighteen years old or older whose hospital data included information on their primary language, specifically English, Russian, Spanish or Chinese.
Hospital costs, length of stay (LOS), and odds for 30-day readmission or 30-day mortality.
Of 7023 admitted patients, 84% spoke English, 8% spoke Chinese, 4% Russian and 4% Spanish. In multivariable models, non-English and English speakers had statistically similar total cost, LOS, and odds for mortality. However, non-English speakers had higher adjusted odds of readmission (odds ratio [OR], 1.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.0-1.7). Higher odds for readmission persisted for Chinese and Spanish speakers when compared to all English speakers (OR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.2-2.3 and OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.0-2.3 respectively).
After accounting for socioeconomic variables and comorbidities, non-English speaking Latino and Chinese patients have higher risk for readmission. Whether language barriers produce differences in readmission or are a marker for less access to post-hospital care remains unclear. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2010;5:276–282. © 2010 Society of Hospital Medicine.