See What HealthDay Can Do For You
Contact Us

Patients' Rights Documents Usually Difficult to Understand

Patients' bill of rights in US hospitals typically written far above average adult's reading ability

MONDAY, Mar. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Patients' bill of rights documents in U.S. hospitals are generally written at a complexity level that far exceeds the average adult's reading ability, according to a report published online Feb. 3 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Michael K. Paasche-Orlow, M.D., of the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues assessed patients' bill of rights statutes for general patient populations in 23 states, as well as patients' bill of rights documents from 240 hospitals in all 50 states.

Although the average U.S. adult reads at an 8th-grade level, state texts intended for patient use are written at an average 15th grade level, and the hospital documents have an average 14th grade readability, the investigators found. Grade 17 corresponds with the reading level of the first year of graduate school, the authors note.

"Many clinicians probably view the patients' bill of rights as a health system issue that does not directly impact clinical practice or their relationships with patients. However, a well-presented patients' bill of rights document has the capacity to encourage patient activation and trust in those providing services. The current research, which demonstrates that patients' bill of rights documents are frequently not understandable to patients, reveals a missed opportunity to present the patient care mission in a clear manner," the authors write.

Pfizer provided funding for the study. One co-author is an employee of Healthcare Analytics, and another is a readability consultant.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

Physician's Briefing