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'Understanding Your Caregivers' Promotes Health Literacy
Date:4/4/2008

Joint Commission Campaign Urges Patients to Take an Active Role in Their Health Care

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill., April 4, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Understanding the often complex medical information your doctor or other caregivers give to you can be difficult, and the consequences of misunderstanding this information can be life threatening.

The Joint Commission is launching a national campaign to help Americans prevent health care errors by promoting "health literacy" - the ability of patients to obtain, process and understand the basic information and services needed to make appropriate decisions regarding their health. The new education campaign is part of The Joint Commission's award-winning national Speak Up(TM) program that helps patients become more informed and involved in their health care.

For patients who may have difficulty comprehending the information needed to make important decisions about their care, navigating the health system can be daunting. Complex forms, conversations with doctors, medication instructions, and coping with a real or perceived lack of attention from hospital personnel all place high demands on patients. Factor in the growing number of people who must manage one or more chronic health conditions, such as hypertension, coronary artery disease or diabetes, and the impacts of health literacy are profound.

"Proper communication is a cornerstone of safe, effective care," says Mark R. Chassin, M.D., M.P.P., M.P.H., president, The Joint Commission. "The Joint Commission strives to help give patients the tools they need to understand health care information and prevent misunderstandings that place them at risk."

"Understanding Your Caregivers" offers patients questions and answers that will help them to better understand the care they receive.

Among the topics are:

-- What can you do if you don't understand what your caregiver is saying?

-- What can you do if t
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SOURCE Joint Commission on Accreditation of HealthcareOrganizations
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