Interpreters to Ensure Patients Receive Instructions in Their Native Language

    • February 26, 2013

Intervention Title:
Ensuring Interpreter Needs Are Met At Admission and Discharge for Patients with Heart Failure

Oregon Health and Science University saw a 65 percent improvement in ensuring patients with limited English proficiency have an interpreter during admission and discharge.

Oregon Health and Science University
3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road
Portland, OR 97239

Oregon Health and Science University is a 560-bed teaching hospital in Portland, Oregon that treats more than 200,000 patients annually.

Kalen Beck
Manager, Interpreter Services

Innovation Implementation:
While trying to make improvements to its heart failure patient discharge process to reduce the hospital’s readmissions rate, the Heart Failure Blood Pressure Committee at Oregon Health and Science encountered another problem: patients weren’t receiving discharge instructions in their native language. The hospital’s daily and monthly ‘Cognos’ reports that document heart failure readmits showed that many patients who had English as a second language documented in their electronic medical record were given verbal and written discharge instructions in English rather than their native or preferred language.

Working with the hospital’s Interpretive Services department, the committee developed and implemented a plan to ensure patients are discharged, but also receive heart failure education in their preferred language. The process involved having nurses notify Interpretative Services upon admission of the patient’s specific language needs. Next, patients receive 1:1 heart failure education in their native language while in the hospital—like their English-speaking counterparts. At discharge, an interpreter is now present to translate post-hospitalization treatment plans for all patients.