Massachusetts General Hospital Patient Care Services
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Excellence Every Day represents an MGH commitment to providing the highest quality, safest care that meets or exceeds all standards set by the hospital and external organizations.
Collaborative Governance Magnet Recognition Regulatory Readiness Innovation Units

Other Topics: Anticoagulation | CAUTI | Central Lines | Downtime (internal access only)

Ethics | Evidence-Based Practice | Fall Prevention | Pain | Patient Education/Health Literacy | Patient Experience
Practice Alerts & Updates (internal access only) | Pressure Injuries | Process Improvement | Professional Development
SUD | Workplace Violence (internal access only) | EED Home

Epic Documentation | Epic Communication

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A focus on patient education and health literacyŚEmpowering patients and families to partner fully in their care

Julie McCarthy, RN

"It was a Wednesday morning and I had just received report on an elderly woman 'Mary' whose primary language was Portuguese. She had minimal understanding of English and a translator was needed for most communications...." more...

—Julie McCarthy, RN, Staff Nurse, Ellison PICU



ADDITIONAL CLINICAL NARRATIVE: Occupational Therapist Katie Russo, OTR/L, CHT, provides a poignant example of using the teach-back/show-back methodology to empower Patricia to rehabilitate her arm after her radial fracture. more...


US map

National Health Literacy Data



HCAHPS Survey Introduction
HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) is a patient satisfaction survey that CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) requires for all US hospitals.


HCAHPS data for MGH:
(related to Patient Education)

Discharge Information

Medication Communication

New MGH Patient and Family Education Materials & Resources Website
Staff have long felt that patient education materials are hard to find on the intranet as well as having too many “clicks” to find the site.  In response to this feedback, the Blum Patient and Family Learning Center in collaboration with the Collaborative Governance Patient Education and Informatics Committees, developed a new intranet website that is easier to find.  The redesigned site highlights MGH-produced patient education materials as well as preferred search engines and databases to find materials.

The intranet site can be accessed through Partners Handbook as in the past but is much easier to access by going to:

   > Partners Applications
   > PCS Clinical Resources
   > MGH Patient and Family Education       Materials & Resources.

In addition, the site is directly accessible from the menu in the yellow bar along the left hand side of the discharge screen in CAS.  If you would like to view the site, click here

Plain Language Consultations and Material Development/Review
Health Literacy is a patient’s ability to understand health information and to use that information to make appropriate health care decisions. Almost 9 out of every 10 American adults have some difficulty with health literacy. However, most patient education documents (i.e. discharge instructions, consent forms) contain too much information and are written at a college level or higher.  To ensure that patients receive information that they can understand and use, the Blum Center offers departments plain language consulting. Blum Center staff trained in health literacy awareness and writing in plain language work with clinicians to produce patient education documents that are clear, easy to understand, and appropriate for all patient populations.

The process works as follows:

  1. Clinician submits the completed Health Literacy Consult Request Form, along with the document to be reviewed to
  2. Blum Center staff completes an initial assessment including reading level, recommended changes, and an estimated timeframe for completion of the work.
  3. If the clinician agrees with the recommended changes, the Blum Center staff edits the document within the agreed upon timeframe.
  4. Once the process is completed, the following statement is added to the document to demonstrate to our patients, families, and staff that the MGH is committed to promoting health literacy:

“This document has been reviewed for plain language by the staff of the Maxwell & Eleanor Blum Patient and Family Learning Center.”

For more information about Plain Language Requests, contact the Blum Center at (617) 724-7352.


Policies, Procedures & Guidelines:
(internal access only)
Patient and Family Education

Nursing Practice Guideline on Patient/Family Education

Patient Education Committee
The Collaborative Governance Patient Education Committee (PEC) is a multidisciplinary team that supports clinical staff in developing their role in patient education activities that reflect the diverse patient population served by MGH. This is achieved through stimulating, facilitating and generating knowledge of patient education materials, programs, and resources in order to improve patient care and enhance the environment in which clinicians shape their practice.

The committee consists of 3 smaller subgroups that focuses on Patient Education/Health Literacy; Communication, Events & Outreach, and Projects. Through these subgroups, the PEC has successfully created and distributed flyers and articles around effective patient education, presented seminars on health literacy, and coordinated activities for Health Literacy Awareness Month.

The Patient Education Committee meets the 2nd Wednesday of the month from 1:30-3:00pm in Sweet Conference Room GRB 432. If needed, the committee also meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month at the same time/location.

Collaborative Governance Patient Education Committee Champions



Patient Education &
Health Literacy

Shared Decision Making

Health Decision Sciences Center and Shared Decision Making

  • The Health Decision Sciences Center is a multidisciplinary research group that is committed to improving the quality of decisions made by patients and health care providers about medical testing and treatment.

  • The mission of the Health Decision Sciences Center is to promote conversations and systems of care that value the expertise of patients, families, clinicians and the best available clinical evidence in medical decisions.






Curley headshot“When a patient is seen in Occupational Therapy because of a new or chronic condition,  our clinicians recognize that the patient is often experiencing many concerns and worries. For example they might be in pain, on new medication, upset about missing work, anxious about being able to do things they need to do, worried about finances, etc. Therefore, when we prescribe a home program of exercises it's very important that we make sure they are able to do them correctly so they can get better and back to their daily activities as soon as possible. We use the "teach back" method where we show the patients how to do their exercises and then have them show the exercises back to us to ensure they are doing them correctly. This way, we can immediately give them feedback on their performance. We find this works much better than simply asking them if they have any questions on their exercises."

— Suzanne Curley, OTR/L, CHT



Attributes of a Health Literate Organization—Institute of Medicine Discussion Paper, January 2012

MGH Patient and Family Education Materials and Resources Website—Caring Headlines, April 3, 2014

National Women’s Health Week—Caring Headlines, May 8, 2014

National Men’s Health Week—Caring Headlines, June 19, 2014

MGH celebrates National Health Literacy Month—Caring Headlines, Oct. 16, 2014


Resources Shared by Participants During the October 31, 2013 Health Literacy Twitter Chat Hosted by
This list of health literacy resources was generated by participants in a Health Literacy Twitter Chat. It includes links to government and non-government organizations.

New Federal Policy Initiatives to Boost Health Literacy Can Help the Nation Move Beyond the Cycle of Costly "Crisis Care"—Health Affairs, 2012

Health Literacy Healthy People

Caring for patients with limited health literacyJAMA 2011


(internal access only)

MGH Contacts:

The Maxwell & Eleanor Blum Patient and Family Learning Center
Phone: 617-724-7352

Collaborative Governance Patient Education Committee Champions

Interpreter Services
Phone: 617-726-6966
Medical Interpretation Tips

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room

Links to MGH Resources (partial listing)

  • MGH Patient Education Television Channel
    MGH Channel 31 offers over 200 health education video titles for patients to view on-demand. To order a video, use patient’s bedside telephone and dial x4-5212.

  • Care Notes/Drug Notes
    Find patient education and/or medication information by keyword search or alphabetical list; can be individualized with special instructions for the patient. 

  • MGH Cancer Patient Education (CaPE)
    CaPE provides information on the different cancer types and cancer care; includes fact sheets on chemotherapy medications, tests and procedures, illustrations and lifestyle management.

Resources in other languages:

  • LexiComp
    s medication information in 18 different languages
  • MedlinePlus Multiple Languages (external link)
    Health information from the National Library of Medicine. Easy access to Medline and Health topics, medical dictionaries, directories and publications on a variety of health topics in 48 languages

External Resources:


Joint Commission logo

For many patients, communication may be inhibited by language differences, hearing, visual or cognitive impairments, health literacy, or other disabilities. The Joint Commission has new and revised requirements to improve patient-provider communication that will increase quality and safety through effective communication, cultural competence and patient- and family-centered care. Read more about the eight new and revised elements of here

PC.02.03.01: The hospital provides patient education and training based on each patient's needs and abilities

Magnet Recognition

Magnet_logoThe American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) requires Magnet-designated organizations to track nationally-benchmarked nursing sensitive indicators (NSIs) to continually inform improvement efforts related enhance patient outcomes. Examples of NSIs include, but are not limited to: patient falls, hospital-acquired pressure ulcers, blood stream infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, and restraint use.

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There are numerous terms and acronyms in healthcare that may be unfamiliar. Please click here to visit a Glossary of Terms that may be helpful. And please email any suggested additions.

This month's featured term: Health Literacy

“The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” — Affordable Care Act

The definition of Health Literacy has evolved over the years. The most recent change came from the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010; the word “communicate” was added. This makes it even clearer that a health literate individual is not a passive receiver of health information but is engaged in an exchange of information. It also underscores that health literacy is not limited to comprehending written information, but includes verbal communication as well.

Excellence Every Day represents an MGH commitment to providing the highest quality, safest care that meets or exceeds all standards set by the hospital and external organizations.

If you have questions or suggestions related to the EED portal, please contact Georgia Peirce at (617) 724-9865 or via email at

updated 4/15/15


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