Physicians struggle with language barriers
Nearly two-thirds of internists have patients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP), yet physicians are rarely reimbursed for the extra time and expense of treating these patients, a new survey of College members found.
“On average, patients with LEP comprise 12% of active patients in the practices of ACP member internists,” said College President Lynne M. Kirk, MACP, in a press briefing Friday announcing the survey results. “Physicians encounter such patients on a fairly frequent basis.”
The College's Board of Regents voted this week to ask Medicare to reimburse doctors for the extra expense and time it takes to treat LEP patients, and to advocate for a national clearinghouse of translated documents and patient education materials.
Because patients with limited English have more difficulty understanding basic health information, they usually require more time during office visits, the survey found. Roughly half of survey respondents said they spend an extra five to 15 minutes with LEP patients versus those who are proficient in English; another quarter reported spending an extra 16 to 30 minutes; while 15% said they spent no additional time with LEP patients.
“The extra time comes with patients taking a longer time to explain symptoms, ask questions and understand health information and treatment,” said Board of Regents Chair William E. Golden, MACP.
The College's survey, conducted in late 2006, found that internists see patients who speak nearly 80 languages, with Spanish being the most common. A paper summarizing the survey findings can be found online at www.healthlaw.org.
Internist Archives Quick Links
MKSAP 16® Holiday Special: Save 10%
Use MKSAP 16 to earn MOC points, prepare for ABIM exams and assess your clinical knowledge. For a limited time save 10% when you use priority code MKPROMO! Order now.
Maintenance of Certification:
What if I Still Don't Know Where to Start?
Because the rules are complex and may apply differently depending on when you last certified, ACP has developed a MOC Navigator. This FREE tool can help you understand the impact of MOC, review requirements, guide you in selecting ways to meet the requirements, show you how to enroll, and more. Start navigating now.