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Understanding Healthcare Literacy in Patient Education

Understanding Healthcare Literacy in Patient Education

Kathy Quan | NursingLink

Cultural factors will come into play as well. Care must be taken in how and when to debunk myths and old wives tails as well as what the medicine man may have told them. Alternative healthcare measures and treatments can and do have a role and need to be integrated into the total picture.

Remember, it’s important to help the patient understand what needs to be done, how to accomplish this and where to turn if he finds he can’t remember a thing once he’s home. Educate the patient not just about his condition and the treatments being ordered, but the basics of his care over the next few weeks, months or perhaps his lifetime.

Consider these basic questions when talking with a patient:

• How often does he need to be seen by the physician?
• Does this prescription need to be refilled?
• How is that done?
• Where does he have to go for laboratory tests, X-rays, scans, etc.?
• Are appointments necessary?
• Does he need referrals and/or pre-approvals?
• What does he need to do to be proactive in preventing risks for other disease or complications?

When he returns for follow up care, assess his current status, what has been done, what he has learned, and what needs to be re-taught or determine what the next step is in reaching the best outcomes. As the patient takes on more responsibility for his own care and outcomes, the nurse’s job will become easier. With proactive and preventative care, the costs will be reduced and optimum benefits and outcomes achieved.

Healthcare reform will further expand the roles and responsibilities for nurses, and like their patients, the success of the plan lies in their hands. Before you write off a patient as non-compliant, consider his healthcare literacy level.

Next: Demanding Health Literacy >>

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