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Are language barriers associated with serious medical events in hospitalized pediatric patients?

Cohen AL. Are Language Barriers Associated With Serious Medical Events in Hospitalized Pediatric Patients? Pediatrics. 2005;116(3):575-579. doi:10.1542/peds.2005-0521.

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September 21, 2005
Cohen AL. Pediatrics. 2005;116(3):575-579.

This study demonstrated an increased risk of adverse events in certain patients reporting a language barrier. Using a case-control design, investigators discovered similar event rates among patients requesting interpreter services, but a subgroup of Spanish-speaking patients requesting such services experienced a higher event rate. While the study suggests a potential relationship between language barriers and adverse events, the study design only offers an associative relationship rather than a causative one. Regardless, the authors advocate for continued research to better understand how improved interpreter services could reduce the potential for errors.