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New Study Shows that Spanish-Speaking Elderly with Asthma have More Difficulty Controlling Symptoms

In an ideal realm, every individual who is sick, injured, or in need of emergency healthcare should be able to have access to assistance regardless of age or ability to speak English. Sadly, that’s not the way the real world works.

Our Chicago nursing home negligence attorneys are already familiar with the plight of mistreatment often negligently thrust on the older – and most vulnerable – members of our society. Nonetheless, it was even more devastating to learn that a new study found that older people with asthma in the United States have a tougher time controlling the condition if they have poor English skills, reported MSNBC.

The findings, published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, stated that, compared to non-Hispanics and Hispanics with good command of the English language, older Hispanics with limited English proficiency had the poorest asthma control, and were less likely to use inhaled medications such as corticosteroids, which can prevent symptoms. Ultimately, the danger is that when asthma is not properly controlled, patients are at increased risk for worsening symptoms and asthma-related death.

Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways, characterized by symptoms such as airflow obstruction, wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma can be caused by either genetic or environmental factors, and, as of 2009 the average number of asthma deaths totaled 250,000 per year.

The World Health Organization reports that asthma mortality has decreased over the last few decades due to better recognition and improvement in care. Nevertheless, successful asthma treatment requires effective communication between the patient and a healthcare provider.

MSNBC’s report detailed the fact that more than 11 million people in the United States have limited to no understanding of English. Recommendations provided by the report for these individuals included ensuring that patients facing language barriers should have a bilingual family member or friend accompany them to appointments, requesting asthma literature in their native language, and attending a local patient support group.
Although these proposals are indeed valuable, with the number of Spanish-speaking patients at such a high rate, it raises the question of liability on the part of the healthcare institution if they are aware, prior to treating these individuals, that they may have an influx of potentially deadly cases with patients that are unable to communicate.

When elderly loved ones are entrusted to the care of either a nursing home or emergency healthcare institution, we expect that their needs will be met and that they are cared for by professionals. Devastatingly, negligence and outright abuse are all too common. Our attorneys are some of the nation’s most recognized and respected leaders in the area of nursing home negligence and elder abuse litigation. Both in and out of the courtroom, our attorneys are leading the charge to create an environment where substandard care will not be tolerated.

If you or a loved one have been harmed as a result of hospital- or nursing home-negligence, contact an attorney to understand your rights under the law. Our attorneys have obtained over $100 million in nursing home verdicts and settlements for neglected residents and their families.