Web site spotlight: Joint Commission, HHS stress importance of healthcare communication

Nurse Leader Insider, November 23, 2009

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The Joint Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services last week released a 30-minute series of videos titled Improving Patient-Provider Communication. The videos, designed for organizations and healthcare providers, spell out what is required by The Joint Commission and by federal law in terms of effective communication and language access, and how the intent of the law can be met.

Those hospitals that accept federal funding are required to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. This includes providing a translator for those patients who are not proficient in English. Similarly, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which protects the rights of individuals with disabilities, requires healthcare organizations that receive federal funds to provide effective communication for patients who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The videos are part of a larger Joint Commission research study called Hospitals, Language, and Culture, undertaken with funding from the California Endowment. The goal of the study, which has been ongoing since 2003, is to better understand the issues of culture and language and how they play out in patient populations in hospitals. The Joint Commission has already published a few reports from study findings and plans to publish more in the future.

Editor’s note: To read the rest of this article, visit “Joint Commission, HHS Stress Importance of Healthcare Communication” found in the Reading Room at

Do you need continuing education (CE) credits? Check out this month’s CE article to learn about forming patient advisory boards or visit our archives and view a compilation of CE articles (marked with an asterisk).

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