Study: ED patients not clear on doctors' instructions

A new study appearing in the current Annals of Emergency Medicine suggests that most patients passing through hospital emergency departments don't understand their doctors' instructions. The study, which was conducted by University of Michigan researchers, found that over 78 percent of patients interviewed failed to grasp key information about their care and future needs. To find out whether patients had understood the essentials of their ED visit, the researchers interviewed 140 patients, leaving out those with poor English and those who were diagnosed with alcohol intoxication or abuse in their study.

Among that confused 78 percent, diagnosis and cause of illness accounted for 15 percent, treatment in the ED for 29 percent, how to address their problem at home, 34 percent, and what symptoms should require a return to the ED, 22 percent. Of the 78 percent who had failed to completely understand their visit, a striking 80 percent thought they'd understood everything--an even scarier stat given that such patients are unlikely to demand additional information.

To learn more about the study:
- read this Wall Street Journal blog item

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