The AMA Foundation, in its "Health Literacy and Patient Safety: Help Patients Understand" publication, outlines the dangers engendered by low health literacy — the inability to use and process health information — in 90 million U.S. adults.
Patients are at risk of physical harm from:
• Not filling or refilling a prescription
• Inappropriate dosing or timing of a medication
• Failure to seek care
Health care professionals are at risk from:
• Repeated office visits for unchanged or worsened conditions because patients didn't understand the initial recommended treatment
• Interruptions and callbacks to clarify instructions
• Errors due to miscommunication and resulting liability.
In its "Manual for Clinicians," the American Medical Association Foundation lists the most commonly misunderstood terms. These include:
blood in the stool