Non-English Speaking Patients can Now Communicate Through Picture Boards

by Medindia Content Team on Sep 5 2007 2:50 PM

Hospitals, health clinics and rescue teams in a number of states have begun to use picture boards to communicate with patients who cannot speak English to help improve quality of care, AP/USA Today reports.

The large, double-sided picture boards, manufactured by Florida-based Servision, allow patients to select icons to indicate their symptoms and the affected parts of their bodies. In addition, patients can select their native languages from a list on the picture boards to allow medical personnel to locate interpreters.

The picture boards also can improve communication between medical personnel and patients who are deaf, mute, hearing impaired or unable to speak because of a medical condition.

Use of the picture boards likely will increase under a new HHS program that seeks to help hospitals determine the communication needs of patients and find tools to meet those needs. Hospital associations in nine states -- New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington -- have agreed to participate in the program.

Fred Jacobs, director of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, said of the picture boards, "They ought to be in every ambulance, in every hospital, in every clinic. Communication barriers lead to adverse impacts on (care) quality, misunderstandings and even medical errors".

Source-Kaiser Family Foundation