California hospitals are actively addressing the challenge of
providing quality health care services to the diverse
limited-English proficient (LEP) population, as well as deaf and
hearing-impaired individuals, by ensuring effective communication
between medical providers and patients.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of
Minority Health (OMH) yesterday issued revised National Standards
for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health
and Health Care as well as guidance materials to help implement
them. Compliance with these standards is voluntary (except to the
extent that they overlap with the required HHS Limited English
Proficiency Guidance). The standards are intended to advance
OMH’s goal of eliminating health care disparities, broadening the
definition of culture beyond ethnicity and language to include
socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation, gender
identification, geography (rural/urban) and religion. In
addition, the concept of health is broadened to include physical,
mental, social and spiritual well-being, and new standards on
organizational governance and leadership have been added. The
standards and related materials may be found at thinkculturalhealth.hhs.gov/content/clas.asp.
The Limited English Proficiency Guidance is available at www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/specialtopics/lep.