Perceptions of Prehospital Care for LEP Patients Among EMTs & Paramedics

Perceptions of Prehospital Care for LEP Patients Among EMTs & Paramedics

Patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) experience disparities in prehospital care. On-scene interactions between patients with LEP and emergency medical services (EMS) providers are critical to high-quality care and have been minimally explored.

By: Alexandra de Leon Date: March 3rd, 2023

A new study published in the JAMA Network Open sought to identify EMS-perceived barriers and facilitators to providing high-quality prehospital care for patients with limited English proficiency (LEP).

Over 30 EMS providers were surveyed who described various barriers to high-quality care during their prehospital emergency response for patients with LEP. These providers were unaware that these barriers impacted quality of care.

Barriers which may contribute to outcome disparities and overutilization of resources included:

  • Ineffective interpretation
  • Cultural differences
  • High-stress scenarios (such as violent events)
  • Provider bias
  • Distrust of EMS
  • Cultural differences

Some facilitators to optimal care included:

  • On-scene interpreter
  • High-acuity disease
  • Relying on objective clinical findings
  • Building trust and rapport
  • Conservative decision-making regarding treatment and transport

Due to this, many EMS providers reported transporting LEP patients to hospitals regardless of illness severity due to concern for miscommunication and unrecognized problems. Researchers on this study suggest future work should focus on the development of targeted interventions to improve modifiable barriers to care, such as improving interpretation and cultural humility and increasing trust.

Investigators on this study represent: The Department of Surgery, University of CA, Davis; Department of Surgery, Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine, and the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center at University of Washington School of Medicine (UW SOM); Physical Sciences division at the University of Washington, Bothell; UW School of Social Work; King County Medic One, Seattle, WA.