Journal Article

Patient comprehension of emergency department care and instructions: are patients aware of when they do not understand?

Engel KG, Heisler M, Smith DM, et al. Annals of emergency medicine. 2009;53:454-461.e15.

This study assessed emergency department (ED) patients' understanding of their diagnosis, treatment received, post-discharge care, and indications to return to the ED. Most patients had limited comprehension of at least one aspect of their care, most commonly pertaining to their post-discharge care. Although this study did not directly assess patients' health literacy, prior research has found correlations between limited health literacy and misunderstanding of instructions (such as those on prescription drug labels). The Joint Commission has published recommendations for improving patient-provider communication in order to address problems similar to those identified in this study.