The effect of limited English proficiency on admission rates from a pediatric ED: stratification by triage acuity

Alexander J Rogers, Carlos A Delgado, Harold K Simon
American Journal of Emergency Medicine 2004, 22 (7): 534-6
The objectives of this study were to determine the effect of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) visits and acuity status on admission rates from a pediatric ED. A retrospective cohort study was performed using a fully computerized medical record, which includes information on language spoken, triage acuity, and disposition. Data was collected on all patient visits from July 2002 to November 2002 from a tertiary-care pediatric ED. Admission rates and acuity status for LEP and non-LEP patients were compared. A total of 13,585 patient visits were identified, of which 12,416 fit the study criteria. There were 244 LEP patient visits, of which 206 were Spanish-speaking. There were 12,172 English-speaking patient visits. Compared with English-speaking visits, LEP visits were more likely to be triaged as high acuity (25.8% vs. 16.1%, P < .001). LEP patients were more likely to be admitted to the hospital (22.1% vs. 13%, P < .001). For high- and low-acuity patients, no significant differences in admission rates were seen between LEP and English-speaking patients. In contrast, moderate-acuity LEP visits showed a significantly increased admission rate compared to moderate acuity English visits (22.5% vs. 12.4%, P = .005). Similar trends were seen among Spanish-speaking LEP patients. Differences in medical disposition from the ED were found between English-speaking and LEP patient visits. There were higher rates of admission for LEP patients, particularly among moderate-acuity visits. This highlights disparities of care for this vulnerable population.

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