Medical emergencies are, by definition, sudden and unexpected. Whether it's a child’s allergic reaction, a car accident, or some other scary event—in that moment of anxiety and vulnerability, there are critical choices to make and crucial information that must be conveyed to emergency responders.
Now, imagine how much worse it would be if you, or a loved one, were alone and unconscious and couldn't communicate. How would the physicians know about your father's heart problems? Your child's allergies? Or, if you were the one who was sick, how would they reach a trusted friend or family member who could come to the hospital and oversee your care?
Don't leave your health to fate. Resolve to create an emergency checklist for yourself and your family members. It can save lives, it takes only 10 minutes to create, and we've created one just for you!
You can use our card HERE.
But if you decide to create your own, here's what it should include:
- Any allergies you have.
- Any medications you're taking, including dosages. Some may have serious side effects, so physicians need to know what you're on and how much. If applicable, don't forget to include medical marijuana, as well as any vitamins and supplements.
- Any diseases or serious diagnoses and any major surgeries. This information could lead physicians to the most likely cause of your problem or help them to make better decisions about emergency treatments.
- Pertinent family health history (heart attacks, strokes, etc).
- The name and phone number of your primary care physician.
- An emergency contact person. Who do you want the hospital to call?
- Finally, if you can get it from your primary care physician, it can be helpful for emergency physicians to have your baseline EKG, because that can be compared to your emergency room EKG, allowing them to confirm or rule out any abnormalities.
At a minimum, attach your most urgent health information and contact details to the back of your identification card. In an emergency situation, one of the first things a response team will do in the case of an unconscious patient is to check his or her wallet or purse. Having an emergency checklist will give you peace of mind—and it may even become a lifesaver one day.
For more tips on getting the best care possible in an emergency, see "Chapter Seven: Emergency Room 101” in The Patient's Playbook.