Think "SAFE:" Four crucial elements for diabetes education
Lucille Hughes MSN/ED, RN, CDE

January 2012 
Volume 42  Number 1
Pages 58 - 61
  PDF Version Available!

WHEN PATIENTS ARE discharged, it's often difficult to find the time to provide proper education before they leave your facility. Patients who are newly diagnosed with diabetes need to learn many new skills, including how to monitor their blood glucose levels and give themselves insulin injections if needed. Yet they're discharged in less time than ever, and patients often don't feel up to learning when they're feeling stressed, anxious, and wanting to go home. So how can you make sure your patients get proper diabetes education before discharge?Focusing on four crucial elements of diabetes education will help you give patients the information they need to manage their diabetes when they're at home. This article describes how to use the SAFE acronym to improve your patients' learning experience.Using the acronym SAFE is an easy way to remember the four crucial elements of diabetes education patients need before discharge from an acute care facility. (See Play it "SAFE".)Before you begin your patient teaching, perform a learning needs assessment and an assessment of the patient's readiness to learn. Results of the learning needs assessment will tell you two things: what your patient already knows and what he or she needs to know. Assessing the patient's readiness to learn helps you gauge your patient's ability and desire to learn at this moment.1 Let's take a look at each one.Learning needs assessment: Assess what your patient already knows. Even newly diagnosed patients may have some knowledge about their disease. Make sure this knowledge is current and applicable to their type of diabetes. Ask open-ended questions to assess your patient's learning needs, such as "How does having diabetes affect your life?" or "Tell me what medications are you taking for your diabetes, and how they work." Observation is another important assessment tool.1 If a patient requires insulin but hasn't self-administered an insulin injection or performed finger-stick blood glucose (FSBG) monitoring,

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