Literacy and Healthcare

Here’s an article I found about the issues illiterate people face at the doctor’s office.

It’s interesting how much of the content overlaps with our discussion with Becky Carpenter, and for me it really hit home the importance of organizations like the GLCP to both the well-being and safety of their members.

Also, I think that the author brings up a great point in his suggestion that doctors should emphasize verbal communication with patients. I never really thought about it before, but looking back, I can’t remember my doctor ever explaining any medication dosage instructions…I always just read it from the bottle. It’s one more example of how much we take our literacy for granted and how difficult and, in some cases, dangerous life without it can be.

On a side note, it’s a little ironic that near the end the author addresses and advises illiterate people in a written article…

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12 Responses to Literacy and Healthcare

  1. Elle10a20 says:

    I am glad you brought this up and am relieved to see that people outside our classroom are considering the potentially fatal outcome of this as well! In my literacy log, I made an entry of my routine intake of a multivitamin. With such heightened reception for all things literate that day I then stopped myself to read the bottle out loud and realized just how crucial being able to read this label was. I looked at the label for ingredients, the instructions in case of an emergency, what to do if a child were to consume the pills, the serving sizes, and the doses recommended for different age groups. Even to twist open the bottle cap, unless you could read that you have to squeeze, push down and twist to the left, you wouldn’t know how to open the bottle. And to think if there was some kind of emergency to get to these pills and the person didn’t know how to open the bottle the outcome really could be fatal. My literacy log entry, like this article did for you, really made me realize just how much I take my simple literacy ability for granted. I think it’s something important people should come to realize and certainly, being that a lot of us want to become teachers, is something worth sharing with others.

  2. hkkeene says:

    This article is a really good example of literacy as a source of power– in this case such a BASIC power, like being informed. Beyond the obvious problem of not being able to read instructions for exercises or medications, or monitor one’s blood sugar or protein intake due to illiteracy, there’s the very sinister and frightening aspect of doctors’ jobs that would thrive with the help of illiteracy: the mutually beneficial relationship between doctors and pharmaceutical companies.

    It’s like when you go to the mechanic because something’s wrong with your car, and although it may just be a tiny, easily rectifiable problem they insist you buy an entirely new radiator or battery or flux capacitor or whatever your darling little clunker needs. Because you (read: I) know nothing about cars, I have to take their word for it and shell out the dough, although if I were mechanically literate I may have been able to investigate and diagnose the problem on my own, and perhaps even fix it! Similarly doctors can prescribe whatever unnecessary medication they’d like to, (in order to get financial boons from the pharmaceutical company,) and without the ability to research the product, a patient would have to blindly trust that they indeed need the medication. Unnecessary production and consumption is the U.S. economy’s bread and butter! (Ahem, FARM SUBSIDIES.)

    Naturally this also made me think in the current battle for English-only state-funded publications, which would take away a Literate population’s right to knowledge simply because they weren’t Literate in the “right” language. But then again, I’m just an hispano-sympathizer.

    Also, this is sort’ve unrelated but I remember reading it a while ago and being astonished. It’s somewhat antiquated doctor jargon, there are some pretty wild ones (UBI = unexplained beer injury).