Cultural beliefs may inadvertently lead to miscommunication with caregivers. There are cases where Asian medical treatment, often referred to as Eastern or alternative medicine, may be used as alternatives or complements to Western care. If there are not well-trained staff and good professional relationships, distrust and ultimately inappropriate treatment may result.
Some Asian medical treatments administered by family members or healers leave welts that are difficult to distinguish from bruises left by beatings. This practice has been the source of much misunderstanding between Asian parents who have recently immigrated to the United States and health providers who come into contact with their children. Working relationships between health care professionals and families are strained when accusations of abuse are reported to local child welfare authorities, as mandated by law. At this point, communications often break down entirely.
Consider this scenario. You are part of the community outreach committee in your local hospital system, which provides health and mental health services for children through older adults in both inpatient and outpatient settings. There are a growing number of concerns about cultural miscommunications between providers and your Asian patients. These concerns are being raised by both families and the health professionals working with them. Your committee has been tasked with evaluating the cultural diversity policies in place and how they influence open communication with the Asian community. Specifically, your group must come up with a way to address the clash between alternative treatments and hospital policies. In this context, discuss the following:
By law, health care providers are mandated reporters and must report any signs of suspected abuse. Do you believe that existing policies need to be modified to accommodate different treatment systems? As a health care manager, what modifications would you recommend? Please justify your response with well-reasoned arguments.
Knowing of this cultural phenomenon and the laws governing you, how would you address this with the clinician, the clinical team, the investigator, and the family? What sort of communication plan would you put into place?
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