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Patient Safety
and Risk Resources


Health Literacy

The Doctors Company supports the American Medical Association’s (AMA’s) policy recognizing that limited patient literacy affects medical diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, we encourage the development of programs that train physicians to effectively communicate with patients who have limited literacy skills.

Studies have shown that people of all ages, races, incomes, and education levels are challenged by an inability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and the services needed to make appropriate health decisions and to follow instructions for treatment. A government study estimated that over 89 million American adults have limited health literacy skills. Individuals with limited health literacy incur medical expenses that are up to four times greater than patients with adequate literacy skills.

A link has been shown to exist between provider-patient communication and a patient’s satisfaction, compliance, and improved outcomes. In multicultural and minority populations, the issue of communication may play an even larger role because of the linguistic, contextual, and cultural barriers that preclude effective provider-patient communication.

Financial issues, language barriers, and cultural misunderstandings are the main reasons that immigrants get fewer and poorer quality medical services than U.S.-born English speakers. Research has shown that services for minorities can be improved by removing language barriers and redesigning the healthcare delivery system. The professionalism of the individual physician rests on his or her ability to deliver the highest-quality and safest care to everyone.

The Doctors Company strives to help every physician improve patient safety. We encourage you to explore these resources through the AMA Foundation:

Health literacy partnerships


The guidelines suggested here are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each healthcare provider in light of all circumstances prevailing in the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.

J10201 6/15


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