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Evaluating the readability of the Emergency Department discharge instructions

Health literacy is commonly defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy Research, only 12% of the entire population have proficient health literacy. Patients with low heath literacy levels have a difficult time interpreting the health information given to them to support their engagement with treatment plans. Documentation given to patients does not meet health literacy standards, they are often written beyond the comprehension level of patients. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the materials given to patients upon discharge from emergency departments (ED). The study analyzes 26 discharge packets, including the patient education material and the clinical summary and identifies potential areas of confusion that may lead to misunderstanding of the instructions. The materials were analyzed for readability using the CDC’s Clear Communication Index which contains 20 scored items grounded in communication science to enhance patients’ understanding of health information.

Author(s): Dr. Gauri Pande, MHPA, CPHQ

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