Sunday, April 17, 2011

Health Care Literacy in ED

According to a recent report in Annals of EM, our patient population in the ED is such that 40% have below an 8th grade level of health care knowledge. The article goes on to state that much of our patient oriented literature is focused towards at least a 9th grade level of health literacy. We should remember this carefully when constructing discharge instructions and we as physicians as well as the nurses should work to ensure the patient understands. It is so easy for us to regress to words and phrases and trains of thought that we take for granted, that the average ER patient may not understand. Nobody likes to feel like you are talking down to a pt, and we will run the risk of doing that to some patients, but we have to work to catch that bottom 40% and make sure all of our patients understand. It is easy to start out very slow and judge from the patients reactions how well they are in fact understanding and adjust from there (however, be aware that often a pt will lead you to believe they understand, simply to be amicable, when maybe they actually don't)

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