VA Health Care:

Language Barriers Between Providers and Patients Have Been Reduced

HRD-89-40: Published: Mar 9, 1989. Publicly Released: Mar 9, 1989.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

In response to a congressional request, GAO examined the Veterans Administration's (VA) efforts to correct English-language proficiency problems among some of its health care providers.

GAO found that after 1977 legislation became effective, VA: (1) developed and periodically updated its policies and procedures to reduce English-language proficiency problems in its facilities; (2) required its foreign-born physicians and health care providers to pass a standardized test within 1 year of employment; and (3) required documentation of its foreign-born physicians' ability to meet language proficiency requirements. GAO also found that: (1) 63 of 99 foreign-born physicians' files at two VA facilities lacked the required documentation because officials believed that the physicians were proficient and met VA requirements; (2) VA plans to develop a patient satisfaction questionnaire to be distributed to all patients at its facilities; and (3) all of the 18 facilities it reviewed had sufficient bilingual staff for non-English-speaking patients. GAO believes that VA needs to: (1) consider testing its health care providers' ability to speak English effectively; and (2) ask specific questions in its proposed patient satisfaction questionnaire to provide it appropriate data on the language proficiency level of its physicians.

Sep 15, 2016

Sep 14, 2016

Sep 12, 2016

Sep 9, 2016

Sep 6, 2016

Aug 31, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here