Accreditation

Study: Discharge notes are often written grades above patient reading levels

Accreditation Insider, January 12, 2016

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A study published in The American Journal of Surgery found that low literacy rates can drive up the number of readmissions. Of the 497 patients studied, researchers found that only 24% had the reading skills necessary to understand their discharge instructions, with 65% reading at a lower grade level than what their notes were written in.
“Even if patients believe they understand what occurred during their hospitalization and the instructions they are to follow upon dismissal, they can become confused after they leave the hospital environment as their memory can be clouded by medications they were administered, the stress of hospitalization, and, particularly within our patient population, traumatic brain injuries such as concussions,” senior study author Martin Zielinski, MD, told Reuters.
The study also found that 65% of 30-day readmissions were for patients who didn’t have the literacy skills to understand their discharge notes. Researchers recommend writing dismissal notes at a sixth-grade level to ensure patient comprehension. 
 



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