The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2012 OPEN FORUM Abstracts


Isaac J. Zamora, Xavier Soler, Rosa A. Barajas, Rick M. Ford; Department of Respiratory Care, UC San Diego Health System, San Diego, CA

Background: Located on the U.S./Mexican border, UCSD Health System serves a broad population of patients who speak only Spanish. In an effort to improve communication between these patients and their caregivers, we identified the need for a translation tool that included terminology that respiratory therapists commonly use in the clinical setting. The goal was to create a written and on-line reference to improve patient safety and quality of care by ensuring a higher level of clarity and mutual understanding. Methods: In 2010, a team was created to identify the best approach to help our staff improve communication with their Spanish speaking patients and their families. We drew from the experience of our bilingual respiratory therapists, an equipment technician, the nursing staff, community members, and a critical care pulmonologist. An English list of the most important terms and ideas were identified, along with a dedicated section for patient assessment. Our document was then formatted to list the English phrase or term, then the Spanish translation, followed by a phonetic example. To avoid possibly confusing explanations, we designed patient inquiries to be answered in “yes or no” responses. We elected to use a simple and polite Spanish that most could understand, regardless of country of origin or level of education. Results: The document was published and made available to staff. Employees have been responsive to using this bedside tool. With the addition of online availability, it is common to see the document on bedside monitors in the rooms of Spanish speaking patients. With our initial trials over, future plans are to conduct training sessions and broadly expand our distribution to include all interested hospital staff. Conclusions: By taking a proactive approach to our rapidly growing Spanish speaking population, we prepare our staff for current and future challenges. Strengthening our ability to communicate will allow us to improve patient outcomes, customer service, and the overall experience of our patients and their families. Sponsored Research - None