Tis the Christmas Season so I thought I’d share a real life Christmas story.
Earlier in the week my son’s first grade class sang Christmas Carols to the Christian Women’s Club. At the conclusion of the program Santa showed up and he gathered the kids at his feet to talk about the “real meaning of Christmas”.
Santa asked the kids a number of questions about Christmas and one of the questions he asked was “Who knows what gifts the three wise men brought to Jesus”.
My six-year-old son raised his hand and after Santa called on him he proudly answered “infants, gold and myrrh”.
Of course the correct answer is “incense, frankincense to be exact, gold and myrrh”, but he interpreted “incense” as “infants”. No one corrected him because it was priceless!
Incense and infants sound alike so no harm, no foul, but there’s a lesson to be learned.
Every day our patients hear words their not familiar with. We describe tests, treatments and medications to our patients and they take it all in but do they really understand?
Use of the teach back method helps us assure our patients actually understand the information we’ve presented them. The teach back method is simple. After sharing information ask the patient to repeat what they heard. You then have the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of your instruction. The teach back method reduces communication errors and improves patient outcomes.
Had I taken the time to ask my son what three gifts the wise men delivered to Jesus the last time I shared the Christmas story I could have explained to him the difference between “incense” and “infants”.
Lesson learned, but in this case I wouldn’t have this great story to share!