Data from a study published online in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the peer-reviewed scientific journal for the Dallas-based American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) indicate that more than three-quarters of patients (78 percent) do not fully understand the care and discharge instructions they receive in the emergency department (ED), and the vast majority are unaware that they don’t understand what doctors have told them.
According to the study, more than half (51 percent) did not understand fully what they were told in two or more categories. More than one-third (34 percent) of the comprehension deficiencies involved patients’ understanding of post-ED care, while 15 percent involved diagnosis and cause. Of those patients with comprehension difficulties, only 20 percent realized that their understanding was incomplete or inaccurate.
The company says patients can help themselves by asking ED staff to repeat themselves or clarify points that remain unclear.
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