Is it your standard of practice yet?

Written by: Fran London, MS, RN
Article provided courtesy of No Time To Teach

Your organization is proud to support an evidence-based practice, right? Yet do your policies, procedures, and documentation reflect the evidence that it is effective and efficient to evaluate every patient’s understanding through teach-back?

Do they indicate it is worthwhile to ask the patient to:

  • demonstrate self-care skills?
  • say what each medicine is for and how to take it?
  • explain how to recognize problems, and how to respond?

Do you need more support to convince your colleagues this small practice change can have a big impact? 

The use of teach back is endorsed by:

  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American College of Surgeons
  • American Hospital Association
  • American Medical Association
  • American Nursing Association
  • Joint Commission
  • National Quality Forum

And the AHRQ has said (2001) that asking patients to recall and restate what they have been told – using teach back – is one of 11 top patient safety practices based on the strength of scientific evidence.

You’ve got the evidence. Now apply it to practice.

Resource: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2001). Making Health Care Safer: A Critical Analysis of Patient Safety Practices.

About the Author
Fran London, MS, RN, is the Health Education Specialist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Fran believes the most important service nurses provide, after saving lives, is patient and family education. Since most health care is self-care, patient education is essential to improve long-term health outcomes.

Fran’s book, No Time To Teach, was the American Journal of Nursing 2010 Book of the Year. It is available at Amazon in print or for your Kindle. Fran’s website,, offers updates on the latest research, and a place to discuss challenges in patient education and how to address them in the most effective and efficient ways. Follow her on Twitter @notimetoteach to keep up on the latest in patient education or become a fan on Facebook, No Time To Teach: The Essence of Patient and Family Education.