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Health Care Leaders Seek Ways to Meet California's Limited-English Proficient Patients' Language Needs.

Business Editors/Health & Medical Writers


In an effort to improve the delivery of health care services to limited-English proficient (LEP) Californians, a collaborative of 25 physician and medical organizations from across the state has been assembled to create The California Endowment's Medical Leadership Council for Language Access. Led by the California Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP), the Council will seek out strategies to improve the provision of interpreter and translation services to LEP patients. Funding for the Council was provided with a $424,700 grant from The Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation.

"Ensuring access to high quality health care for California's limited-English proficient communities is a priority of The California Endowment," said Robert K. Ross, M.D., president and CEO of The Endowment. "By bringing together health care leaders from across the state, we are assembling the best possible resources for identifying solutions to the challenges of providing and funding interpreter and translation services."

The Council, which is one component of The Endowment's four-pronged strategy to develop the field of health care interpretation and translation, will meet biannually to discuss strategies to improve the quality of care received by patients with LEP, and to explore policy changes that can provide solutions to funding for health care interpretation services.

"We in the medical community are pleased to join this visionary effort," said Leonard Fromer, M.D., co-convener of the Council and immediate past president of the CAFP. "Any physician practicing in California knows first-hand how critical language access services are for patients who speak languages from nearly every country in the world."

According the Census 2000 Supplemental Survey, 39.5 percent of Californians speak a language other than English at home. It is estimated that 51 percent or seven million of these individuals are LEP and would benefit from language assistance -- either interpretation (spoken) or translation (written) -- when accessing health care services.

In April 2002, Brandeis University released a report showing that LEP hospital patients face a much greater risk of medical error and misdiagnosis when they are not provided with an interpreter.

Additionally, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report in March 2002, which showed that minorities receive a lower quality of care than whites, even when their insurance and income are the same. The IOM review of more than 100 studies conducted over the past decade concludes that these disparities contributed to higher death rates among minorities from cancer, heart disease, diabetes and HIV infection.

Since 1948, the California Academy of Family Physicians has been advancing the cause of family physicians and their patients. With nearly 7,000 members, including active practicing family physicians, residents in family medicine, and medical students interested in the specialty, CAFP is the largest primary care medical society in California, and the largest chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians. For more information, visit their Web site at

The California Endowment was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. The Endowment has regional offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno and San Diego with program staff working throughout the state. The Endowment makes grants to organizations and institutions that directly benefit the health and well-being of the people of California. For more information, visit their Web site at

Leadership Council Members

American Academy of Pediatrics, District IX

California Association of Public Hospitals and

Health Systems

American College of Obstetricians and

Gynecologists, District IX

American College of Physicians-American

Society of Internal Medicine, CA Chapter

California Chapter, American College of

Emergency Physicians

California Medical Association

Fresno-Madera Medical Society

Los Angeles County Medical Association

San Francisco Medical Society

St. Joseph Health System

Sutter Health

Catholic Healthcare West

California Academy of Family Physicians

Association of American Indian Physicians

California Association of Health Plans

Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum

California Healthcare Association

California Latino Medical Association

California Primary Care Association

Golden State Medical Association

San Diego County Medical Society

Sierra-Sacramento Valley Medical Association

Santa Clara County Medical Association

Wellpoint Health System

Kaiser Permanente (invited guest)

Scripps Health (invited guest)
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Comment:Health Care Leaders Seek Ways to Meet California's Limited-English Proficient Patients' Language Needs.
Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Aug 12, 2002
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