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Improving doctor-patient communication yields significant health benefits
Date:10/11/2007

ades, doctors and pharmacists have often taped actual pills to hand-written sheets of paper to help educate their most vulnerable patients. This approach, however, is too time-consuming and impractical to carry out for every patient at every appointment.

The VMS is fast and inexpensive, can be printed in any language, and facilitates communication that happens naturally in the doctor's office, the researchers emphasize, and can be adapted to other clinical settings, including pharmacies.

The next step for the research team is to find ways to integrate the VMS and 3-step approach into everyday practice. "Having health systems adopt this communication tool on a long-term basis for anticoagulant care could translate into lots of strokes being avoided and lots of bleeding being prevented," says Schillinger.

"We hope, in the near future, that all vulnerable patients will have a VMS tacked to the refrigerator so they, and their caregivers, will know which pills they should be taking and how they should take them," says Machtinger.

In the meantime, the researchers emphasize that patients should be educated about the dangers associated with medication miscommunication and discuss how they are taking their medications with their doctor at every visit. While there are other reasons besides miscommunication that might affect whether a patient takes medication as prescribed, Schillinger believes that "for high-risk medications, we need to focus our energies on implementing standardized visual communication tools that accompany any prescription to ensure safety and quality."


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Contact: Vanessa deGier
vdegier@pubaff.ucsf.edu
415-476-2557
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert

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