Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Do you speak medical?

…According to Nancy Paull, president of Health Literacy Solutions in Fort Lauderdale, recent testing showed 191 million Americans cannot do the following.

…Calculate an employee’s share of health insurance costs for a year, using a table that shows how the employee’s monthly cost varies depending on income and family size.

…Evaluate information to determine which legal document is applicable to a specific health care situation.

…OK, this skunks HA already.

..Then Paull notes (this is not pretty): Almost half (47%) of adults cannot determine a healthy weight range for a person of a specified height, based on a graph that relates height and weight to body mass index (BMI).

…Or find the age range during which children should receive a particular vaccine, using a chart that shows all the childhood vaccines and the ages children should receive them. (OK, HA could do this one, whew!)

…Determine what time a person can take a prescription medication, based on information on the prescription drug label that relates the timing of medication to eating.

… (HA also wonders, do people think 3 times a day means every eight hours, or 3 times during waking hours—please comment and tell her.)

…Identify three substances that may interact with an over-the-counter drug to cause a side effect, using information on the over-the-counter drug label.

..Health Literacy is part of patient safety planning for hospitals and docs, according to Paull—or should be anyway.

…Does your doctor speak your language and do you speak his or hers? Can you make sense of these insurance plans and clipboards?

…Everyone can be speaking English—and still not communicate. And plenty of people are not even speaking English. This can be life or death.

.. For results of the recent NCES health literacy study, go to http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2006483.

…To reach Nancy Paull, go to http://healthlit.blogspot.com.

…HA thinks we all could do better. She takes care of her aged mother and still cannot communicate well with some medical personnel or memorize the benefits of her plan, her daughter's plan, and her mother's plan.

…They aren’t even Greek or written in Greek. But it’s all Greek to her sometimes.


HealthLit1 said...

Hey Health'Sass - It's not pretty, but oh so true. Low literacy levels and limited English proficiency patients are at a considerable disavantage navigating health care situtations and information. Thanks for highlighting this emerging health issue that is being elevated by the Joint Commission, the CDC, the Surgeon General and HHS, NIH and many more governnment and other agencies concerned with patient safety, reducing barriers and health disparities in care, medical error and more issues which intersect with health literacy.

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