Are You Prepared?

Getting the results you want during a medical emergency requires your full participation; after all, life is not a dress rehearsal.

I met a new family this week and before we knew it, our client was in the Hospital Emergency Room. Sometimes it is in the chaos when a light bulb goes off for the family. So I meet them in ER and learn that vital health information is lacking as well as vital legal documents. Gee Whiz, this is when we know life is not a dress rehearsal.

Where do you keep your medical information?

Does it include your medical and legal history, including basic information like doctor’s names and contact information, including specialists, dentists, vision, hearing and gynecology, allergies, medications and vitamin regimens; insurance information contact and membership numbers and lab reports? Is it all in one place and can you get copies when needed? Do you have Advance Directives, POLST and emergency contacts. And make sure you have copies as you’d be surprised how often they get lost

Start with a Binder

A binder is a good place to start and gather this information; keep it simple at first – then grow as needed to include more information. You could make sections such as:

  1. Contact List for Emergencies
  2. Medical Records and History
  3. Legal Records
  4. Copies of Documents (such as Advance Directives, Health Insurance) – make sure there are two copies of each document.

It is best to create one location – a file cabinet with a portable file, a binder or flash drive are all excellent. Your medical team is going to take your situation more seriously when you present the information they need in the time and framework they can best use it.

This is step one in creating the medical team to support you; it’s the basics for any critical situation. Next step is to create a timeline of chronic conditions, hospitalizations, surgeries, accidents, medications and complementary therapies.

Family Medical History

Another consideration that may help to explain your condition is family medical history. What do you know about cause of death of grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts or siblings? If there is a genetic component such as breast cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s or manic depression? It can be important for your medical team to know.

Do you know your numbers?

Then of course, know your numbers. Track test results, height and weight, blood pressure, pulse, cholesterol, blood sugar, eyesight, etc. so you are prepared to provide information between medical visits.

So the family in the Emergency Room…what happened to them?

All this information needed to be collected then and there; large gaps of information and guesses for dates gave an incomplete story. As much as the family had to guess, the medical team also had to guess. The family left ER with the wrong diagnosis and needed to return the next day in further crisis. This was a waste of resources for the family, hospital, Medicare, ambulance service and physicians.

How can you prevent this from happening to you or your family? If you look at yourself as a friend, do for yourself self what you would do for a friend.