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September 6, 1995

Language Barriers in Medicine

Author Affiliations

Foster City, Calif

JAMA. 1995;274(9):683. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530090013008

To the Editor.  —For more than 30 years, I have provided care for patients from all over the world at the Pediatric Cardiology Clinic at San Francisco General Hospital. One of the things I have learned is that, although it is important to have good interpreters, as Dr Woloshin and colleagues1 indicate in their article, it is also important to have language-specific information about the medical problems that the family can take home and show to the extended family.At San Francisco General Hospital, I have created information about common congenital heart lesions (as well as functional murmurs) in 12 languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Russian, German, Persian, Arabic, Hebrew, Swedish, Chinese, Japanese, and English. The ability for a mother to take home a pamphlet describing a ventricular septal defect in her native language so that the relatives can understand the nature of the child's defect makes the clinic

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