Language barriers exacerbate physician shortage in Texas

The number of Spanish-speaking physicians cannot keep pace with the growing U.S. Latino population. This is especially pronounced in Dallas County, Texas, where nearly 40 percent of residents speak Spanish at home, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Comparatively, just 4 to 6 percent of physicians in the area are Hispanic, according to data from North Texas Latin American Physicians Association.

Area hospitals are now working to keep the language barrier from limiting access to care. For example, 22 percent of physicians at Dallas-based Parkland Memorial Hospital are proficient in Spanish, though only 5 percent identify as Hispanic, according to the report.

More than half of the hospital's patients are Hispanic and a third have limited English proficiency, the report notes. To help address this communication gap, the hospital network employs 86 medical interpreters.

"When it comes to health, it's critical to be able to communicate your needs to your doctor," James Chanez, president of the North Texas Latin American Physicians Association, told The Dallas Morning News, "and that can be hard if you don't speak the same language."

 

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