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Oakbrook Terrace, IL: The Joint Commission; 2007.
Low health literacy is a recognized patient safety problem. Prior research has demonstrated that patients with impaired health literacy have difficulty comprehending prescription instructions and warnings. This Joint Commission report, developed by an expert panel, contains specific recommendations for improving provider–patient communication, in order to ameliorate the problem of low health literacy as much as possible. The report recommends that organizations establish communication as a patient safety priority and calls for financial support for patient-centered care initiatives.
Tools/Toolkit > Government Resource
Brega AG, Barnard J, Mabachi NM, et al. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2015. AHRQ Publication No. 15-0023-EF.
This updated AHRQ toolkit provides resources for primary care practices to ensure proper health literacy assessment and to promote greater understanding for all patients. The second edition includes methods to assess written patient education materials for ease of use, simplify the referrals process, and identify barriers to improving health literacy awareness.
Special or Theme Issue
Paasche-Orlow MK, Wilson EAH, McCormack L, eds. J Health Comm. 2010;15(suppl 2):1-225.
This special issue presents findings from a 2009 conference that explored health literacy research in areas such as measurement improvement, informed consent, and organizational communication.
Journal Article > Study
Older patients' understanding of emergency department discharge information and its relationship with adverse outcomes.
Hastings SN, Barrett A, Weinberger M, et al. J Patient Saf. 2011;7:19-25.
This study of geriatric patients discharged from a teaching hospital emergency department (ED) found that nearly 20% did not understand either their diagnosis or how to care for themselves at home, and the majority did not know the expected course of their illness or when to return to the ED. The study corroborates prior research showing that many ED patients do not comprehend their discharge instructions, and that a large proportion of hospitalized patients are unaware of their diagnosis. Many factors may play a role in this discrepancy, including low health literacy and suboptimal patient–provider communication. An AHRQ WebM&M perspective discusses the broader issue of patient safety in the emergency department.