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It’s a common scenario for many hospitals: A family brings in an injured child. Everyone is scared – the child may be in pain or confused about what’s happening, and the parents are worried about their child’s care and helping them feel better. 
Now imagine this scenario with a family that speaks Arabic and can’t easily communicate with your staff. How does your hospital or health system adapt existing processes to help the minor patient and their limited-English proficient (LEP) family? 

LEP Pediatric Assets-02-1Study shows LEP families are less likely to question their child’s hospital care

A recent study conducted in 21 children’s hospitals found that many LEP families feel less safe asking questions and speaking up during their hospital stay. LEP survey respondents were significantly less likely to:

  • Freely speak up if they see something that would negatively affect their child’s care
  • Question the decisions or actions of healthcare providers
  • Ask questions when something doesn’t seem right

    Compare responses to survey questions
    “I would freely speak up if I see something that may negatively affect my/my child’s care." 57%
    strongly agree
    strongly agree
    "I feel free to question the decisions or actions of health care providers." 37%
    strongly agree
    strongly agree
    "I would be afraid to ask questions when something does not seem right."  39%
    strongly disagree
    strongly disagree


What are the consequences if LEP families are afraid to ask questions?Dentist blog post-04-1

Many studies show that patients who are LEP often experience negative health outcomes and have a greater chance of extended-stay hospitalizations, misdiagnosis, and grave medical errors.

For children, studies show that they are more vulnerable to major medical errors when compared to children who come from English-proficient homes. LEP children are also three times as likely to have a poor health status compared to other children due to a lack of insurance, inadequate language support, and lack of parental understanding.


How your hospital can improve care for  children & families with limited-English proficiencyLEP Pediatric Assets-07-1

  • Choose qualified interpreters: Building trust with pediatric patients and their parents is crucial to effective healthcare. A qualified interpreter trained to deliver accurate and complete interpretation between parties helps to develop that rapport. In addition to compliance with Section 1557 of the ACA and Joint Commission standards for language access, qualified interpreters should be trained to work with patients of all ages. CyraCom’s trained employee interpreters adapt their approach when working with children to help them feel at ease.
  • Provide video interpretation: Children often respond better to interpretation when they can see their interpreter rather than responding to a disembodied voice. Keep in mind that children’s attention spans are often shorter than adults, making it more difficult for them to focus during conversations.
  • Use simple language and shorter sentences: A child’s vocabulary is much more limited than most adults, especially in very young children. Keeping your message as short as possible using simple language improves understanding and overall communication. Avoid using overly formal vocabulary or tone-of-voice. You can also make children feel more comfortable by crouching or sitting down so you’re closer to the child’s eye level.
  • Improve cultural understanding: Beyond converting one language into another, interpreters may describe cultural differences. A qualified interpreter can describe cultural differences, explain concepts that may be unfamiliar, and help your team adapt to the LEP patient and family’s needs.

Let CyraCom’s trained, qualified interpreters help your pediatric patients

Contact our language services experts to ask questions or schedule your no-cost consultation today.


Lindsay Lawson

Lindsay Lawson

An experienced researcher, writer, and editor on language services-related topics, specializing in interpreting and translation services, how language works.