Patient satisfaction boosted when families can discuss surgical care in native tongue

Spanish-speaking families are more satisfied with their children's care when they can communicate with the surgical team in Spanish without a translator, according to a study in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery.

Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., studied outcomes in the Hispanic Center for Pediatric Surgery at the children's hospital, where all staff members interact with patients in Spanish.

"Even though interpreters are great, being able to look someone in the eye and tell them how we feel, and hear directly how they feel about us, makes for such a different interaction," said Matias Bruzoni, MD, the study's lead author and surgeon at the center.

Dr. Bruzoni and the team compared patient satisfaction rates of three groups of families: Two groups were of Hispanic, Spanish-speaking families — one group communicated with English-speaking caregivers with an interpreter, while the other communicated with the clinicians directly in Spanish — and the other was a control group of English-speaking families.

The group of Spanish-speaking families that could communicate with caregivers in their native language were more satisfied and reported a higher rating of the quality of information they received when compared to families in the control group and families using the interpreter.

Dr. Bruzoni encouraged other hospitals to consider creating programs for Spanish speakers. "Not only is the patient population growing, the physician population is growing. We need bilingual and bicultural staff to help improve our ability to provide patient-centered care."

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