Patient Ed. 102

How often have you read this in a chart?

The patient was educated on…

Were they really? More often than not, the answer is “no”.

The difference between the instructor and the educator is simple: the former provides information, the latter enriches knowledge.

Dr. David Weinberger says in this blog posting that knowledge has been defined in many ways including:

Knowledge transforms “information into instructions”


Knowledge is like the recipe that lets you make bread out of the information-ingredients of flour and yeast (with data as the atoms of the ingredients).


Knowledge is the combination of data and information, to which is added expert opinion, skills and experience, to result in a valuable asset which can be used to aid decision making.

Patient education is not as simple as doling out information. No, it is far more complex than that. Education is defined as , “the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.” To put it more succinctly, Dr Weinberger states in his blog, “The emphasis…is on knowledge being “actionable”.

How many clinicians do you know that are willing to invest the time, energy and resources provide the patient with knowledge, rather than information?

A more poignant (dare I say enlightening?) question may be, “How many clinicians, themselves possess the “actionable” knowledge necessary on the topic to be a successful teacher?”


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