Language Barrier in The Nursing Practice Free Sample Essay

The language barrier is a major cause of system failure in patients. It brings about system failure in that a nurse cannot access the basic information concerning a patient’s illness (Smedley, 2010).


Nurses provide care to a diverse population that has different cultures and hence different languages. Usually, different cultures and languages cause a system failure in that a patient will not receive the correct diagnosis due to the language barrier. Some nurses do not understand the language of the patient and in most cases, there is no interpreter. Nurses are supposed to learn different languages and cultures in their curricula.

There is a lot of information gathered on an individual’s culture and is useful when a nurse is faced with a problem of a language barrier. Different cultures have different eating habits, dress modes etc. They affect an individual’s health either directly or indirectly. People have different health beliefs and perceptions (Galanti, 2008). They have also a different understanding of illnesses which are either mental or physical. All this contributes to system failure.

The language barrier is a major cause of system failure in patients. It brings about system failure in that a nurse cannot access the basic information concerning a patient’s illness (Smedley, 2010). A nurse cannot access information on the causative agents of a patient’s disease. This leads to incomplete clinical information about the patient. As a result, there will be inaccurate lab results and diagnoses of the wrong disease. Some cultures stress the significance of supernatural powers. These beliefs bring about a language barrier between a patient and a health care specialist. This is because a patient will not consult medical help because of his/her belief. They believe that supernatural forces like demons cause illness to humans (Silva, 2008).

The language barrier may be caused by illiteracy in that a patient may have difficulty in communicating proficiently. There are some patients who do not speak English at all or any other international language. Certain cultures only allow that a female patient is attended by a female health care specialist (Speros, 2009).

Precautions to be Employed

There are various solutions for the language barrier in the administration of health care. Nurses are supposed to be equipped with knowledge of various cultures. This will only be achieved if they learn about different cultures in their nursing curriculum. It is important that nurses learn how to speak various international languages. This will lessen the problem of the language barrier. Another precaution is by the use of interpreters.

This system failure is mostly found in the discipline of nursing. This is because health care is given in nursing. Nursing is defined as offering care to patients. When there is a language barrier, the result is a poor diagnosis of a disease. This is as a result of incomplete clinical information.

Evidence of the Research being done

In 2007, a woman called Debra was hit by Hurricane Katrina. She was a Latin American, 38 years old and with a low level of education (tenth grade). She was suffering from AIDS. Later, she was taken to a temporal shelter where a nurse was meeting her medical needs. However, it was challenging due Debra knew how to speak Spanish only. Her nurse only communicated in English and none of them had interpreters.

To make matters worse, she didn’t have her medical records due to being lost in hurricane Katrina. They could have guided her nurse in administering health care. Due to her illiteracy also, she could not manage her disease well. This is a good example of a case where there is evidence of research being done on the problem of the language barrier. The problem is further accelerated by the lack of medical records. It was recommended that the nurse of Debra finds an interpreter who could assist in communication.

Incomplete Clinical Information

Incomplete clinical information is another cause of system failure. This leads to a partial or non-diagnosis of a disease. It leads also to a medical error of diagnosing the wrong disease. Incomplete clinical information is caused mainly by a language barrier or illiteracy.

Clinical information is used to produce a diagnosis in laboratories (Hopwood & Mallinson, 2007). When incorrect and insufficient data is presented in the laboratories, there is always no successive treatment. When there is incomplete information on laboratory forms, there is a delay in relaying crucial information needed during treatment. An example is a patient who is in a theatre and needs to be operated on.

The clinical information required is the patient name, hospital identification number, gender, birth date of a patient, physician name and identification number. Clinical information, a diagnosis that was done before a specimen was collected and medication taken before is also the information needed. There is also the name of the specimen, the date and the time that the specimen was collected.

Incomplete clinical information on forms brings about system failure by causing wrong interpretation of results and this leads to the wrong prescription of drugs. Wrong or careless use of medical abbreviations could be misinterpreted. It is also important to indicate the type of specimen to give the correct interpretation. The health care specialist’s name is important for communication by the laboratory personnel. When there are no physician contacts, a laboratory worker finds it difficult to seek clarification on the forms given (Young & Thomas, 2007).

Precautions to be Employed

The problem of incomplete clinical information can be minimized in various ways. The first one is by reducing the language barrier. The language barrier contributes to obtaining incomplete clinical information. The problem can be lessened by the use of interpreters.

To eradicate medical errors committed in the laboratories, health care specialists need to be better trained. They are supposed to be qualified and follow rules in filling laboratory forms. Errors need to be eradicated to achieve good results in the laboratory. Laboratories forms need to be improved and easy to use.

System failure is mostly found in the discipline of medicine. This is because medicine is related to health. A person’s illness has to be diagnosed first to know the causative agents.

Evidence of the Research being done

A baby boy called Miguel Sanchez was born on 1996. He was a healthy boy weighing seven pounds. His mother was ailing from syphilis and she spoke only Spanish. There were translators but the nurses and doctors could not know if her syphilis still existed or not. It was hard to obtain clinical information so as to determine if the child had congenital syphilis. This is a good example of a case where there is evidence of research being taken of the system failure of lack of clinical information. It was recommended that the nurses and doctors find a nurse or a doctor who could communicate in both Spanish and English.

Summary of the Article

Medical errors should be minimized or eradicated at all costs. This is because health care specialists face the law due to carelessness. The language barrier is a setback in diagnosing diseases due staff get limited clinical information. This leads to a bad interpretation of results and treatment of the wrong disease. This can be reduced by learning different cultures and languages, and being careful when filling out laboratory forms.