There are measurable disparities in the quality of care when patients and care providers do not speak the same language, according to new studies that have implications for immigrants in the US.
The studies, published Thursday in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, examine the consequences of language barriers for patients who speak little or no English.
The studies reveal patients who speak little English are less likely to go for invasive procedures, such as surgeries.
Though many hospitals have interpreters on their rolls, some 20 percent of them were found to lack competent bilingual skills.
Nearly 20 percent of the US population now speaks a language other than English at home. And while many can comfortably speak English when needed, experts estimate some 20 million speak or understand little, if any, English.