Barriers Latino Patients Face in the Pediatric Emergency Department
Kaleigh Mary Connors
Latino children are the largest minority and fastest growing group in the United States, consisting of 17.9 million children age 18 years and younger (Pew Research Center, 2016). The population is expected to keep growing, and by the year 2035, 1 in 3 American children and youth will be Latino (Patten, 2016). Although increasing in numbers, these children face numerous struggles, with nearly a third of Latino children living at or below the poverty line (Polk, Carter-Pokras, Dover, & Cheng, 2013). When accessing health care, obstacles these children and their families face include limited English proficiency (LEP), minimal understanding of how the United States healthcare system functions, lack of primary care providers, and complications related to immigration status. These difficulties may ultimately lead to poorer health outcomes. As the pediatric Latino population continues to grow in the United States, the management of these patients and their families will become a cornerstone for all clinicians, especially those in the emergency department. By understanding common barriers faced, as well as grasping a general concept of Latino cultural dynamics, providers can improve their cultural competency, and with that, the healthcare experience for Latino pediatric patients and their families.