Prescription Label Translation by Pharmacists with Low English Proficiency Patients
Priti N. Patel, Emily M. Ambizas, Robert Mangione, Department of Clinical Pharmacy Practice, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Linda Weiss, Peri Rosenfeld, Elana Behar, Division of Health Policy, New York Academy of Medicine, New York
Objective: To assess the availability of translated prescription medication labels and leaflets at New York City pharmacies.
A telephone survey of pharmacists that own or are employed in one of 200 randomly selected NYC pharmacies was conducted. The interviews included questions on frequency of limited English proficient customers, language speaking competencies of pharmacy staff, ability to print translated medication labels and other medication information, frequency of providing translations, and other practices regarding multilingual medication information.
A total of 200 NYC pharmacists were interviewed: 117 from independent pharmacies (58.5%), 71 from chain pharmacies (35.5%), 7 from hospital outpatient pharmacies (3.5%), and 3 from clinics (1.5%). A large portion (88.0%) reported caring for limited English proficient (LEP) patients on a daily basis. Just 7.0% reported LEP patients less than once per day, and 5.0% reported no LEP patients. The majority of pharmacists (77.0%) reported that they are able to print translated medication labels (70.0% Spanish, 9.0% Chinese, 7.0% other languages). Most pharmacists who could translate labels did so on a daily (35.8% of the full sample) or weekly (12.5%) basis. Of those who could translate labels, 26% never did so. Pharmacists practicing in independent settings who encountered LEP patients on a daily basis were more likely to provide translated labels on a daily basis than chain pharmacy practitioners (adjusted OR 6.06; 95% CI [2.15-17.09]; p<0.01). 51.5% of pharmacists were able to print translated medication leaflets in Spanish. Less than 5% could print leaflets in other languages. In most pharmacies, there was either a bilingual pharmacist or other staff person (75% Spanish, 13.5% Chinese, and 12% Russian) who provided verbally translated information. Few pharmacists reported having a telephone translation service available for their use (n=27; 13.5%). Of those with this capability, utilization was infrequent.
Pharmacists in New York City frequently need to provide translated medication labels and information to patients. Improved translation resources as well as education and training for pharmacists can enhance pharmaceutical care for low English proficient patients.