For those who speak English fluently,the idea of language as a barrier to safe, effective health care might seem somewhat intangible and secondary to many other access-to-care issues. Then again, any English speaker who has ever had the experience of needing medical services in a non-English speaking nation will likely appreciate how crucial it can be to communicate effectively with those providing care.
For many, language challenges in health care are indeed front and center. or many, language challenges in health care are indeed front and center. While about 20 percent of the U.S. population claims a native language other than English, a reported subset of this population—around 25 million people, or nearly 9 percent of the population—can be classified as being limited English proficient (LEP). For these patients, communication barriers can pose potential risks to the safety and quality of the health care they receive.