Patients know less than you think

What patients remember about the things their doctors tell them upon discharge varies considerably from what their doctors think they know. Doctors assume their patients understand more than they do about side effects of medication and resumption of normal activities, and noncompliance in those areas could lead to expensive readmissions. A research team from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City, KS, published their findings after surveying about a hundred patients who’d been in the hospital for either pneumonia or acute myocardial infarction, both conditions requiring significant discharge treatment education.1 Improved communication is the message. Comprehensive discharge planning by nurse specialists should include counseling by the pharmacist, written instructions, and telephone follow-ups.


1. Calkins DR, Davis RB, Reiley P, et al. Patient-physician communication at hospital discharge and patients’ understanding of the postdischarge treatment plan. Arch Intern Med 1997; 157:1,026-1,030.