The American Association of Retired Persons calculates that approximately 90 percent of Americans suffer from an issue known as health illiteracy. What this means is that these individuals lack a full understanding of their medical wellbeing and the treatment and medications prescribed by their health professionals.
Health care illiteracy is a big problem in the United States in large part due to our bureaucratic health care system. Often a person has to see so many different specialists and obtain referrals that it can be easy to lose track of exactly what their status is. Additionally, doctors sometimes do not take the time to fully explain to their patients what the extent of their diagnosis is and how it should be best treated. Even the most educated person can get confused when confronted with a great deal of medical jargon. In these situations, it is not unusual for a patient to feel too embarrassed to ask clarifying questions.
However, health care illiteracy can have serious consequences. When a patient does not fully grasp their health status or the steps they need to take to address any medical problems, their treatment can be compromised. This may include errors in taking certain medications or not fully appreciating side effects that can accompany their treatment. Some of these consequences may be minor, but occasionally they can seriously injure a patient.
The good news is that patients have the power to take control of their health literacy. By taking simple steps individuals will be able to gain a better understanding of what their medical diagnosis and treatment is.
For instance, a person should make sure to ask plenty of questions during health appointments. If you do not understand something, don’t be afraid to speak up and let the medical professional know. These doctors and nurses spend their lives in the medical field and it can be easy for them to fail to recognize the gap in their knowledge versus the average patient. Further, a patient should make sure to repeat back to a doctor their medication directions. This will ensure that the patient does not take an improper dosage and cause him or herself harm.
Remember, your health care is important. Don’t let health illiteracy or a hurried medical professional impact it. If you believe you have been injured due to a doctor’s failure to properly instruct you on your health care or medication, consult the experienced San Diego medical malpractice attorneys at Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire.