The USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy recently partnered with Keck Hospital of USC’s Office of Performance and Transformation to investigate and improve translation services for non-English-speaking patients who may face language barriers when receiving care.

Ricardo Suarez, PT, DPT, and Janelle Gilmer, PT, DPT, GCS, both assistant professors of clinical physical therapy, found that Spanish-speaking patients in their department, which works extensively with liver transplant patients, had a 26.1% readmission rate compared to 21.2% for English speakers. The rate for Spanish-speaking female patients sat even higher, at 28.4%.

Suarez and Gilmer then implemented a six-month pilot study to address language equity and care delivery. The effort resulted in greater engagement with certified interpreters during the treatment process and improved protocols for accessing translation services at Keck Hospital, where the patient population speaks more than 80 different languages.

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