Patient education in the emergency department: take advantage of the teachable moment

  • Benoit PétréEmail author
  • Aurore Margat
  • Jean-Christophe Servotte
  • Michèle Guillaume
  • Rémi Gagnayre
  • Alexandre Ghuysen


Several recent works have highlighted hospital discharge as a good opportunity to deliver patient education (PE). Despite its constraints (overcrowding and unpredictable workload, in particular), the emergency department (ED) should be viewed as an opportune place for improving patient satisfaction and adherence to recommendations, and thus for preventing complications and early readmission, suggesting that better PE and health information could be one way to enhance patient safety. Building evidence on how best to organise and deliver effective PE poses many challenges, however. This paper gives an overview of the main issues (what we already know and prospects for research/clinical approaches) concerning PE in the ED: improving provider skills, ensuring PE continuity, developing educational materials, interprofessional collaboration, identifying specific educational needs for certain subgroups of patients, evaluating PE delivery, and identifying the most effective interventions. Future research will be needed to develop evidence-based guidelines for a comprehensive approach to PE.


Patient education Patient safety Patient participation Emergency department Hospital discharge 


Author contributions

The idea for this article came out of an annual meeting between the paper’s authors, aimed at defining future development for patient education and research. BP and MG are joint heads of a public health unit whose research focuses on different ways to improve/promote patients’ involvement in their own care and, more globally, in the health care system as a whole. AG is an academic emergency physician-researcher who tests the implementation of education experiences in his practice. AM and JCS are PhD students looking for innovative ways to address accessibility and effectiveness issues in care practices and PE delivery. RG is head of the Health Education and Practices Laboratory, which has been a pioneer in the development of PE in France and Europe. BP, AG and AM conceived the article. BP wrote the manuscript with help from MG, AG, JCS, AM, and RG. BP is guarantor of the article.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benoit Pétré
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aurore Margat
    • 2
  • Jean-Christophe Servotte
    • 1
  • Michèle Guillaume
    • 1
  • Rémi Gagnayre
    • 2
  • Alexandre Ghuysen
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Public Health DepartmentUniversity of LiegeLiègeBelgium
  2. 2.Educations and Health Practices Laboratory (LEPS), (EA 3412), UFR SMBHParis 13 University, Sorbonne Paris CiteBobignyFrance
  3. 3.Emergency DepartmentUniversity Hospital Center of LiegeLiègeBelgium

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