The impact of medical interpreter services on the quality of health care: A systematic review

Glenn Flores

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

848 Scopus citations


Twenty-one million Americans are limited in English proficiency (LEP), but little is known about the effect of medical interpreter services on health care quality. A systematic literature review was conducted on the impact of interpreter services on quality of care. Five database searches yielded 2,640 citations and a final database of 36 articles, after applying exclusion criteria. Multiple studies document that quality of care is compromised when LEP patients need but do not get interpreters. LEP patients' quality of care is inferior, and more interpreter errors occur with untrained ad hoc interpreters. Inadequate interpreter services can have serious consequences for patients with mental disorders. Trained professional interpreters and bilingual health care providers positively affect LEP patients' satisfaction, quality of care, and outcomes. Evidence suggests that optimal communication, patient satisfaction, and outcomes and the fewest interpreter errors occur when LEP patients have access to trained professional interpreters or bilingual providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-299
Number of pages45
JournalMedical Care Research and Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Communication barriers
  • Language
  • Patient satisfaction
  • Physician-patient relations
  • Quality of health care
  • Translating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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