The Doctor’s Advocate | Fourth Quarter 2023

Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Patients: Top FAQs

Debra Kane Hill, MBA, RN, Senior Patient Safety Risk Manager, and Richard F. Cahill, JD, Vice President and Associate General Counsel, The Doctors Company

The Doctors Company frequently responds to questions about limited English proficiency (LEP) patients (individuals who do not speak English as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand it).

LEP patients may be entitled to language assistance with respect to a particular type of service, benefit, or encounter. If you accept Medicare or Medicaid patients in your practice, you must comply with federal laws pertaining to LEP patients or face the possibility of fines, sanctions, and penalties.

To help you ensure compliance, we have compiled answers to common questions about LEP patients.

For additional FAQs and actionable strategies to help you ensure compliance, read our article "Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Patients: Frequently Asked Questions."


  1. Fed Regist. 2003;68[153]:47311-47323.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Guidance to federal financial assistance recipients regarding Title VI prohibition against national origin discrimination affecting limited English proficient persons. Last reviewed July 26, 2013.
  3. 45 CFR §164.506(c).

The Doctor’s Advocate is published by The Doctors Company to advise and inform its members about loss prevention and insurance issues.

The guidelines suggested in this newsletter are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. They attempt to define principles of practice for providing appropriate care. The principles are not inclusive of all proper methods of care nor exclusive of other methods reasonably directed at obtaining the same results.

The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each healthcare provider considering the circumstances of the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.

The Doctor’s Advocate is published quarterly by Corporate Communications, The Doctors Company. Letters and articles, to be edited and published at the editor’s discretion, are welcome. The views expressed are those of the letter writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or official policy of The Doctors Company. Please sign your letters, and address them to the editor.