Language barrier a prescription for disaster says health minister

PATIENTS with limited English are at a higher risk of taking the wrong medication, says Health Minister Jillian Skinner.

Speaking at the launch of Multicultural Health Week on Monday Ms Skinner she said they were involved in 49 per cent of incidents that resulted in some physical harm and this was 20 per cent higher than English-speaking patients.

“It is estimated there are 190,000 medication-related hospital admissions every year in Australia,’’ she said.

‘‘Enhancing communication about medication safety in languages other than English is at the very heart of Multicultural Health Week.’’

Ms Skinner met with representatives of multicultural media organisations in Sydney to help promote improved access to health information and services in their language on safer use of medicines.

She also said the week looked at how the issues of miscommunication could cause problems in health care settings and what could be done to improve health communication so as to improve the quality of health services delivery.

Blacktown Filipino community group, Adhika Inc. spokeswoman Josie Musa, said they would work with the government to improve the situation.

“Medication safety is very important for both patients and their family members and I’m pleased to see this issue under the spotlight for the benefit and well-being of multicultural communities across the state,” she said. 

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