The consequences of misinterpreting or misleading a Hispanic patient or their family can lead to incorrect health care or even possible lawsuits. Some hospitals and clinics think that an easy “fix” to a language barrier is to simply use a phone system for their patients, or “an automated nurse.”

Common Healthcare Mistake #1

“We have a phone system, so our patients can just use that at any time.”

This is an extremely ineffective means of communication and creates stress for the patient. The Hispanic culture is very relational, in that they will often prefer to ignore their health issues and refuse to go to certain clinics if it means having to go through the dreaded phone system. They prefer face to face communication; they read body language more than they listen to words. This cold method of communication removes everything personal from the conversation.

The Solution

  • The entire nursing staff should be able to use simple and practical Spanish phrases.
  • The patient needs to feel comfortable when talking about health concerns to assure that they are receiving correct and quality healthcare.
  • Providers can begin building a warm relationship with their patients as soon as they are able to welcome them with a warm first impression, instead of pushing them to the side.
  • Through quick and effective language and culture training, employees will build the skills to further help the patient in a careful manner.