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Cultural understanding yields patient safety dividends.Edit

Patient safety alert.

Healthcare Benchmarks Qual Improv. 2007 Oct;14(10):suppl 1-2.


St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN serves the second largest Hmong population in the country. As the Hmong community grew, the hospital had to adapt and expand its programming through the community. They developed a “cultural liaison” as part of their staff who serves to “bridge the two worlds and gain the patient’s agreement to [treatment].” They not only focus on the Hmong community, but others as well including Latino, Russian, Tibetan, and Somali. Not only do they have cultural liaisons on staff, but also interpreters. They have developed a 4-hour course which consists of general training in culture, where the tendency to internal bias toward those who are the same and towards those who are different is discussed. There is even an online training course for physicians with patient scenarios. They have also contacted the community leaders to find out what the hospital needs to know about their cultural to provide better patient care. The hospital has opened its doors to the community, allowing people to take tours of the labs, operating rooms, and maternity suites to allay culturally based fears of Western medicine. All the steps this hospital has taken to accommodate and better serve those of a different cultural have increased patient safety. From adding additional staff to introducing new items to the hospital menu, patients of many cultures are open to receiving care at this hospital. While some of these programs may be costly, in the end, patient care is improved and patient safety increased, thus decreasing costs overall.

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