Literacy in the Adult Population

This is an ongoing problem that I happen to encounter on a regular basis in my position.  The illiterate or semiliterate person may also experience difficulty handling large amounts of information (Essentials of Patient Education by Susan Bastable, 2006).  This statement is often not taking into consideration when caring for patients and their families by the health care team.  Many of the parents that I work with have very low IQ’s and are borderline mentally retarded.  This makes raising a child difficult and even more difficult when the child has medical concerns.  It is imperative for us as the healthcare team to take a step back and talk in the most simple of terms to offer patient education.  It is very easy in the world we live in today with the introduction of computers in the patient rooms and the mandate to see a certain number of patients in a given time frame to rush patient education.  However, we can not ever assume the literacy of our patient population.  It maybe very easy in the world of computers to print off an information sheet describing the new medication for a mother only to find out later the mother can not read past a 6th grade level.  We have computers to help improve our patient care which I think is great, however we can not lose touch with our basic patient education when it is needed.

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