An exit interview was conducted during March, 1994 on 314 patients treated and released from the Emergency Department at Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield, California. The questionnaire was designed to assess understanding of diagnosis, prescribed medications, additional instructions, and plans for follow-up care. The patients' own perceptions of the adequacy of communication and whom they considered the most important source of information were also determined. Overall, patients correctly identified 59% of their instructions. The performance of the English speaking and the Spanish speaking patients was compared. Spanish speaking patients scored significantly lower on all questions. The physician was identified by most patients (63.8%) as the source of the most information.