Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in communication study to reduce medical errors

Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 9:38 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2023 at 10:20 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) -While most might think the leading cause of death in America is heart disease, cancer, or even car crashes-while on the list-medical errors are in the top three.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is joining a study being done at Boston Children’s Hospital.

The five year project “Comparing Three Approaches to Communication with Hospitalized Children and Families with Limited English Proficiency” is meant to improve the quality of care they receive.

“We need to achieve equities and there is no equities here. Medical care should be available to everybody with the same degree of safety, and we found the gap which needs to be filled,” says Tetyana L. Vasylyeva, M.D., Ph.D., from the Texas Texh University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine.

Vasylyeva said the goal of the project is to compare three different translation approaches. They revolve around in patient pediatric patients and their families at northwest hospital to see how these approaches can reduce medical errors.

According to Texas Tech Health Care Professionals, they wanted to join in part with Boston because Amarillo has a huge refugee population and the amount of languages they come across are so vast.

With this, they have noticed an increase in lack of understanding.

“Amarillo is a very welcoming community. It became a home for people from different backgrounds, from different countries, different nationalities, including myself. So we try to make medical care equal for everybody,” says Vasylyeva.

Vasylyeva says, studies show that people with limited English proficiency are more hesitant to ask questions.

“Even if they don’t understand, sometimes they’re afraid to show it. They don’t always follow medical instruction, which is really preventing them from great medical care,” says Vasylyeva.

Clinical Research Coordinator, Amanda Cutts says, they have seen an increase in non English speaking patients not understanding their diagnosis and or how to take medications.

“Here we are giving them English information, and it’s a sort of like how can we expect them to take care of themselves when they’re still trying to adjust to a new area, a new location and now they have a huge health problem? We’re wanting to make sure to bridge that gap,” says Cutts.

The three communication approaches include current communication practices with no changes.

The second approach will add a telephone interpreter to the current practices.

The third approach will include the patients entire care team working together with an in person interpreter.

“It’s equity across the board, making sure that everyone is having an equal amount of care when it comes to their health,” says Cutts.

The overall goal of the project is to find what communication approach works best and hopefully reduce the amount of medical errors in Amarillo and in hospitals nation wide.