They have recently started talking about medical literacy of patients. This concept first appeared in the medical literature in the 90 – ies of the last century, but the importance of assessing and improving the level of medical literacy of patients today is no longer in doubt. Its low level puts at risk the safety of patients, the implementation of high-quality medical care and obtaining the desired treatment results.
It should be noted that medical literacy also applies to medical personnel, which we will discuss below
What is health literacy?
The term” health literacy ” refers to a patient’s ability to understand and assimilate medical information to support or improve their health. However, the level of education does not necessarily correlate with the level of medical science. For example, people with an average or high professional level of General knowledge may have a fairly low level of medical literacy. This is mainly due to the use of specific terminology by medical staff that is incomprehensible to most patients, as well as the stressful situation in which patients find themselves in a medical institution.
Health literacy, a term that emerged in the 1990s, has been defined in many ways over time and is still considered an evolving concept
One of the reasons for the lack of adherence to treatment is considered to be the low level of medical literacy of patients. It is well known that communication is a powerful tool in the doctor’s Arsenal and an integral part of the effective implementation of medical care, but patients, unfortunately, do not always correctly understand the information they receive from the doctor, which leads to inadequate performance of their medical appointments, violation of the recommended regime and unfavorable course of the disease.
A patient’s medical literacy begins with a proper daily routine, a balanced diet, and trust in the doctor’s instructions.
Health literacy and adherence to treatment
Low health literacy increases the risk of adverse treatment outcomes. First of all, its level is closely related to the willingness to be treated. Patients who have an adequate level of medical literacy are better at getting used to regular medication than patients with a low level of it. Improving the medical literacy of patients should be one of the main components in increasing their adherence to therapy. In addition, it is the lack of skills and knowledge that worsens treatment, and, consequently, the low adherence of patients to therapy that causes an increase in the frequency of their new requests for medical care.
Insufficient medical literacy has been found to correlate with low levels of self-help, high risk of hospitalization, and increased mortality.
The main way to increase the level of medical literacy of patients is training – this is an important component of patient treatment, which improves their quality of life and prognosis.
In recent years, more and more attention has been paid to patient adherence to therapy, especially in the treatment of chronic diseases. Medical professionals are often faced with the fact that patients are not fully or consistently implement the recommendations of the doctor. The outcome of treatment depends on adherence, namely, the prognosis of the disease and the quality of life of patients. Timely identification of patients with a low level of medical literacy and providing them with additional support in the implementation of self-help and optimization of therapy can significantly improve the quality of treatment.
Legal literacy of medical professionals
Improving the literacy of medical professionals is one of the key tasks of medical institution managers. The work of medical professionals is now taking place in difficult social, legal and psychological conditions. Among the entire array of negative factors that directly affect the performance of specialist duties, the following are of primary importance: a significant number of legal acts that regulate medical activities; quantitative and qualitative growth of diseases and methods of diagnosis and treatment; complications of psychoemotional relationships with colleagues and patients.
Not the least important is the fact that not every health care institution has a lawyer’s position. That is why the problem of legal and deontological awareness of medical professionals, their possession of communication and other skills is very relevant. After all, there is now a steady trend towards an increase in the number of legal and ethical conflicts in the health sector, a significant part of which end in legal proceedings, and in some cases – the application of legal liability measures.
Analytical sociological and legal research conducted on this issue highlights a significant reason for the facts of conflict situations and improper performance of their professional duties – the critically low level of knowledge and skills of medical personnel in the ethical and legal sphere. The results of research indicate that medical professionals generally do not show the necessary interest in knowledge that goes beyond their highly specialized functions. First of all, we are talking about ignorance of the basic laws of the state, which lay the foundations of the legal status of citizens, their basic rights and obligations, and basic acts regulating the medical sphere.
In particular, doctors are not well aware of the rights of patients to informed consent, the rules of registration of consent and refusal of the patient, the legal significance of medical documentation.
All these facts of legal nihilism of doctors in General negatively affect the quality of their work, because ignorance of the algorithm of actions in the right field increasingly leads to defects in medical care, improper behavior and other logically expected adverse consequences.
On the contrary, legal literacy of medical professionals, including proper awareness of their own legal status and knowledge of the legal basis of professional activity, can serve as a reliable Foundation for the proper performance of duties and protection of themselves and other participants in legal relations.
The outlined unfavorable state regarding the legal awareness of physicians is already the subject of state policy in the field of modernization of the system of secondary, higher and postgraduate medical education. Taking this into account, new state educational standards are being introduced, which include complexes of legal and humanitarian disciplines. The process of providing legal education to future doctors is increasingly being adjusted in accordance with the goal of providing the necessary knowledge and skills to students as fully as possible, so that their professional activities in the future will be the least thorny.
Laying the Foundation for this knowledge will contribute to the formation of legal consciousness and legal culture of future specialists and setting up a harmonious doctor-patient relationship.
Also, doctors do not use enough information resources from other relevant areas – practical psychology, deontology, management, marketing, which are also important structural elements of the work of the head of the institution, doctors, nurses, and health care personnel.
After all, specialists who don’t know the legal foundations of its activities, its powers and boundaries, do not know how to behave, can’t blend well in a modern space medical activities, more prone to errors and losses (material and image), which determine their competitiveness, the demand and finally – financial situation.
Summing up, it should be noted that a modern medical worker, of course, should be guided in the legal context of their activities, be able to find the necessary legal and other information, and also include legal, deontological and communicative components in the range of their professional interests.
This is what will allow you to effectively master the means of preventing and controlling conflict cases in the daily work of medical personnel, and, if necessary, to constructively solve complex ethical and legal situations at the pre-trial stages.