Patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) have increased risk of adverse events after hospitalization. At our institution, LEP families did not routinely receive translated discharge instructions in their preferred language. Our objective for this study was to increase the percentage of patients with LEP on the hospital medicine (HM) service receiving translated discharge instructions from 12% to 80%.
Following the Model for Improvement, we convened an interdisciplinary team that included HM providers, pediatric residents, language access services staff, and nurses to design and test interventions aimed at key drivers through multiple plan-do-study-act cycles. Interventions addressed the translation request process, care team education, standardizing discharge instructions for common conditions, and identification and mitigation of failures. We used established rules for analyzing statistical process control charts to evaluate the percentage of patients with translated discharge instructions for all languages and for Spanish.
During the study period, 540 patients with LEP were discharged from the HM service. Spanish was the preferred language for 66% of patients with LEP. The percentage of patients with LEP who received translated discharge instructions increased from 12% to 50% in 3 months and to 77% in 18 months. For patients whose preferred language was Spanish, the percentage increased from 16% to 69% in 4 months and to 96% in 18 months.
Interventions targeting knowledge of the translation process and standardized Spanish discharge instructions were associated with an increased percentage of families receiving translated discharge instructions. Future work will be used to assess the impact of these interventions on postdischarge disparities, including emergency department revisits and readmissions.