A number of healthcare organizations have initiated consumer health literacy programs to improve outcomes and prevent adverse events. These campaigns are intended to raise patient awareness of risk, suggest helpful safety tips and develop expectations of quality care. You might find it useful to familiarize yourself with the specific terminology and concepts your patients may be exposed to.
- The Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have collaborated to produce the "Speak Up" initiative. "Speak Up" is intended to engage patient/family involvement in patient safety. The downloadable pamphlets presented in "Speak Up" include:
- Help Prevent of Errors in your care
- Help Avoid Mistakes With Your Medicines
- Help Avoid Mistakes in Your Surgery
- Information for Living Organ Donors
- Five things the patient can do to prevent infection
- What You Should Know about Research Studies
- Planning Your Follow-up Care
- Help Prevent Medical Test Mistakes
- Know Your Rights
- Understanding doctors and other caregivers
- What You Should Know About Pain Management
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is the U.S governments lead agency for improving American healthcare. The AHRQ offers consumers & patients a plethora of resources intended to help the consumer safely navigate the American healthcare system.
Some important topics include:
While these programs are well intentioned, there is little evidence that printed pamphlets and internet resources alone improve patient safety. The fact that 90 million adults in America have poor literacy indicates that printed media would be ineffective for many.
- The Agency for Healthcare Quality and Reasearch found that these adults had difficulty "finding pieces of information or numbers in a lengthy text, integrating multiple pieces of information in a document, or finding two or more numbers in a chart and performing a calculation.
- The American Medical Association believes that:
- 47% of American adults read below the 8th grade level
- Health literacy is highly correlated with health status
- Low health literacy negatively impacts patient health
- All socioeconomic and ethnic groups are affected
Effective patient safety programs require significant commitment of time, personnel and resources.The following are two examples of patient safety efforts that are making a difference.
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs National Centers for Patient Safety is a singular model of both innovation and effective implementation of patient safety. Please visit the following link to review the patient safety terminology and concepts your patient may have been exposed to VHA NATIONAL PATIENT SAFETY IMPROVEMENT HANDBOOK
- Florida is a leader in patient safety legislation. 381.026 Florida Patient's Bill of Rights and Responsibilities was passed to promote patient safety by requiring patient education sufficient to allow informed consent.
381.026 Florida Patient's Bill of Rights and Responsibilities
The American Medical Association offers "Six steps to improve interpersonal communication with patients".
- Slow down - speaking slowly and spending a little more time with the patient can improve communications.
- Use plain, non-medical language - Explain things to patients as you would explain them to a family member.
- Show or draw pictures - Visual images can improve the patient’s recall of ideas.
- Limit the amount of information provided, and repeat it - Information is best remembered when it is given in small pieces that are pertinent tothe tasks at hand. Repetition further enhances recall.
- Use the teach-back or show-me technique - Confirm that patients understand by asking them to repeat back your instructions.
- Create a shame-free environment - Make patients feel comfortable asking questions. Enlist the aid of others (patient’s family, friends) to promote understanding.