Kristy Elder, RN, GAHHS Clinical Educator, practices the Teach Back Method with Amelia Kerber, EIU Community Health Intern.
Each year, the National Patient Safety Foundation, which was founded in 1997 to improve the safety of patient care, sponsors Patient Safety Awareness Week, in order to educate and increase awareness of patient safety activities throughout the health care spectrum. The theme for this year’s Patient Safety Awareness Week, occurring March 2-8, 2014, is "Navigate Your Health…Safely." While it is helpful to have an advocate or navigator, sometimes the patient’s role in self-care is the most important tool to promote illness recovery or condition regulation. That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised if your nurses at Gibson Area Hospital include you in the discussion when they are teaching you a new care skill or discussing your disease management.
Improving patient safety is very important to all staff at Gibson Area Hospital. As evidence of this, all GAH nurses completed education in January on the Teach Back Method. "Teach Back" is a technique designed for providers to educate patients by engaging them in their care conversation and then assess their learning. After providing care instructions and other health education, nurses or providers will ask patients to repeat back in their own words the information just given to them. This method of patient education has been shown to decrease medical errors by the patient, increase patient adherence to the healthcare regimen, improve patient outcomes, and increase patient satisfaction.
Patient education has become a hot topic of discussion in the medical world as many recent studies have shown that patients understand much less about their at-home care than what doctors and nurses realize. One study found that patients remember and understand less than half of what clinicians explain to them. Other studies found that patients often stated they understood or appeared to understand the information given to them, but upon using the Teach Back method of education, it was revealed that patients actually had an incorrect grasp on care instructions that could have resulted in potentially harmful errors in self-care. The number one goal in providing patient education at Gibson Area Hospital is to ensure that patients understand the information they receive so they can effectively care for themselves when they return home. By using the Teach Back method to educate patients on self-care, the nurses can be certain that information is clearly understood by the patients and if not, correct inaccuracies before serious mistakes occur.
Being diagnosed with a new condition and learning how to manage your own care can be difficult. Patients are often overwhelmed by all the new information being given to them on top of not feeling well because of the actual illness. Several factors in the hospital setting can contribute to not fully understanding everything the nurse or doctor tells the patient. At Gibson Area Hospital, all patients are encouraged to ask questions or request clarification when they do not completely understand something told to them or given in written materials. The GAH staff desires to be partners in patient care in order to prepare patients to successfully continue caring for themselves at home.