New England Journal of Medicine and cultural competence

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published an important discussion on the provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) in medical care. This an important article, since the field of medicine has been relatively slow in acknowledging the importance of being able to provide quality healthcare to all patients. The guidelines are multifactorial, and address (1) government, leadership, and workforce guidelines, (2) communication and language assistance, and (3) ongoing evaluation and accountability efforts. One limitation of the guidelines is the primary focus on language issues, which, while important, do not account for all of the health and health care disparities that exist in the U.S. Nevertheless, we should recognize the continued advancement of the recognition of the responsibility of healthcare systems and providers to work to make health care inclusive to all.

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