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Friday, November 16, 2007

Hospital Impact Blog RE: 25% of People in Study Misread Prescription and Appointment Info

Dr. Marc C. Rothman writes at the Hospital Impact blog in a post titled "Healthcare Complexity: The Elephant in the Room" that an article in the Archive of Internal Medicine had details about a study of healthcare literacy. Over a period of 6 years, the authors of the article included 3500 people over the age of 65 in the study. The results were "A quarter of the folks had inadequate healthcare literacy, meaning they misread prescription bottles and appointment slips."

As one can guess this group had a higher chance of dying in the next six years. The difference between the chances of dying were 40% for the group with healthcare literacy difficulty (reading prescriptions and appointments), and ony 18% for those with good healthcare literacy.

Dr. Rothman reports in the blog that the difference was greater in those who had cardiovascular difficulties because these conditions need many "prescriptions, appointments and tests."

This highlights the importance for caregivers to keep a medication log, a daily caregiver notes diary, and a calendar to record test dates, appointments and so on.

Caregivers are non-medical. But if something seems to be puzzling, or you think an elderly person is misreading a prescription or appointment slip, you can contact the appropriate source for help.

A call or appointment with the doctor, nurse, pharmacist, therapist or other healthcare professional can provide information to clarify or explain prescriptions and what they are for. Calling to verify appoinments, and keeping a calendar listing treatments and tests is important.

If, as a caregiver, you have a question, don't hesitate to phone for information to the appropriate source, or point out the situation to a family member and/or healthcare professional who can help.

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