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A Safe Passage from the NICU to Home: The Importance of Health Literacy and Discharge Instructions

March 2016 Blog, Stories from the NICU Comments Off on A Safe Passage from the NICU to Home: The Importance of Health Literacy and Discharge Instructions

Nearly half of all US adults have difficulty understanding and using health information. To the nurses at ProgenyHealth, health literacy is the ability of parents whose newborn(s) are in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to attain, process, and understand health information and services needed to make informed decisions.

One issue healthcare is faced with is whether parents truly understand the discharge instructions and are able to apply the information provided to them once they are in the home setting. Taking an infant home is an anxious time for parents and limited parent/caregiver health literacy can result in increased stress and poor compliance with discharge instructions. Poor health literacy among parents can lead to increased infant mortality and morbidity along with increased cost of healthcare after discharge, especially with infants who have complex medical issues. If not appropriately prepared for discharge, limited literacy leads to increased hospitalizations, errors with medication administration, less knowledge of disease management and health promoting behaviors. Additionally caregivers are less likely to follow the discharge plan or use preventative services.

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