Alert
Close

Last chance – give now. Before 2014 ends, help struggling seniors. Donate

HIGHLIGHTS

Open

AARP VETERAN MEMBERSHIP

Military and Veterans Discount

CONTESTS AND SWEEPS

AARP REALPAD

Introducing RealPad by AARP

AUTO BUYING PROGRAM

AARP Auto Buying Program

Download the ipad App

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

Ask the Tough Questions

Don't leave your doctor's office without the answers you need

Hospital readmissions are hard on the patient, but they also inflate the financial burden on the health care system. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that one in five Medicare patients is readmitted to the hospital within a month of discharge.

The reason: They are not told clearly how to take care of themselves at home. Researchers estimated that the cost of these unplanned return visits was $17.4 billion in 2004.

78 percent of the 140 patients questioned did not understand instructions for their care after leaving the emergency room.

In another study published last July in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, Kirsten Engel, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, and her colleagues looked at patients' understanding in four areas: diagnosis, treatment in the ER, instructions for at-home care, and hospital discharge instructions.

“We found that 78 percent of the 140 patients questioned did not understand instructions for their care after leaving the emergency room,” Engel says.

Further, Engel says, “only 20 percent recognized that they had difficulties understanding information given to them.” So if a patient doesn’t know what he or she doesn’t know, where do we go from here?

“Having a meaningful conversation with a health care provider is a skill that needs to be developed,” says Nancy Whitelaw, director of the Center for Healthy Aging at the National Council on Aging. “There are accessible, convenient community-based programs that give people the confidence to have conversations with their providers.”

Developing that skill may mean the difference between life and death. “We learn it’s not polite to argue,” says retired ship captain Carpenter. “But you have to take charge of your own health. You pay a price for passivity.”

Next: How to ask good questions. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

AARP membership discount Man trying on eyeglasses at optometrists smiling

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at LensCrafters.

Grandson (8-9) whispering to grandfather, close-up

Members can save 20% on hearing aids with the AARP® Hearing Care Program provided by HearUSA.

member benefits adt companion

Members save on new installation of a ADT Companion Service® personal emergency response system.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points