Effective communication with patients is increasingly challenging for health care providers as the population in the United States becomes more diverse. According to the 2000 Census, more than 21 million Americans speak English less than “very well.” In this study, the researchers examine the relationship between language preferences, length of stay and in-hospital mortality for a group of patients admitted for acute myocardial infarction (AMI). They hypothesized that individuals with a non-English language preference would stay in the hospital longer and have a higher incidence of in-hospital mortality than patients with a preference for speaking English. The data were collected from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development and the California Department of Health Services Medicaid monthly eligibility file. Data from individuals under 35 years of age were excluded from the analysis to eliminate those with congenital heart disorders.
- Of 12,609 Medicaid patients admitted for AMI across 401 California hospitals, 2,757 had a non-English language preference.
- Non-English language preference was not associated with a longer stay in hospital (after adjusting for variables) or increased AMI mortality.
More research is needed to see if these findings translate to non-Medicaid populations and to other health conditions.