SaferCare Texas to host Health Literacy Conference

Pills & Drugs, Healthcare Photo. Free Public Domain Cc0 Image.In the face of a nationwide opioid epidemic, a patient’s health literacy can be the difference between life and death. One out of four patients prescribed opioids to treat chronic pain misuse them because they don’t understand the often dense, jargon-filled language of medicine, according to data from the National Institutes of Health.

To address the need for greater health literacy in Texas, SaferCare Texas — the patient safety arm of The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth — will partner on Thursday with Health Literacy Texas, It’s Time Texas and the DFW Hospital Councils Health Literacy Collaborative to host a conference centered on the Healthy People 2030 Health Literacy Objectives and Whole Health.

“This is not just a health literacy issue, it is a patient safety issue,” said Dr. Teresa Wagner, interim director for SaferCare Texas.

Dr. Scott WaltersFrom 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday at HSC’s Medical Education & Training Building, “Healthy People 2030: Health Literacy from Advice to Action” aims to teach participants how to advocate for health literacy programs and policies that help patients understand and use health information to make informed decisions. The event is open to the public. In addition to health literacy in the opioid crisis, the conference will also focus on maternal health and the impact of financial literacy.

Dr. Scott Walters, a Regents Professor at HSC’s School of Public Health, will be the featured speaker. Walters has published numerous opioid-related articles and studies.

“Whole Health is achieved by empowering people to discover, receive and participate in care for their body, mind, spirit and environment within and through their communities,” Wagner said. “Achieving Whole Health requires health literacy and financial literacy to seek and obtain health care and health screenings as well as live a healthy lifestyle.”

Teressa WagnerNearly nine out of 10 adults struggle to understand and use personal and public health information when it’s filled with unfamiliar or complex terms, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Improving the health literacy of patients around the country could prevent nearly 1 million hospital visits and save more than $25 billion in health care costs.

In addition, nearly 110,000 people died last year of drug overdoses in the U.S., according to federal data published in May. Opioids contributed to a staggering 75,000 of those deaths.

As the nation continues its efforts to unwind the damage from an increasingly complex and deadly opioid problem, patient safety and public health officials have zeroed in on the role of doctor-prescribed opioids. Medical professionals prescribe the drugs as a treatment for pain, which can lead to misuse and spiral into a potentially deadly addiction.

“Health literacy can help us prevent health problems, protect our own health and better manage health problems when they arise,” Wagner said. “Many people aren’t familiar with medical terms or how their bodies work.”

Register for the conference here:

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