When a medical emergency occurs, every minute counts. Putting systems in place to help you be proactive in an emergency could potentially save your life, or a loved one’s life. But how can you possibly know what you’ll need in an emergency before it happens? We’ve got you covered with this Emergency Health Information Checklist.
The first item on your checklist should be to gather all the relevant information that would be needed for medical forms in an emergency. This would include your birthdate, Social Security number, and health insurance and/or Medicare information. Make photocopies of everything and keep them in a safe place.
List of Medical Providers
Compile a list of all your healthcare providers, ranging from your general practitioner to specialists, such as a cardiologist, pulmonologist or nephrologist. Be sure to include their names, phone numbers and a brief explanation of why you are in their care. Should you have a medical emergency in which you cannot update your attending physician about your medical conditions, it would be helpful for them to be able to speak to your other doctors directly to figure out the best course of action for your personal health needs.
Allergies or Known Health Concerns
If you have any known allergies to medications, foods or materials (such as latex), it’s important to write them down and put them in an easy place to access in an emergency. Many people choose to keep them listed on their refrigerator so EMTs can find it quickly should they need to enter the house. Along with listing any allergies to medications, feel free to also make a list of any specific health concerns they should be aware of before treating you, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
Make a list of all the dosages and instructions for all the prescription medications that you take on a regular basis. In an emergency medical situation, it’s imperative that your attending physician knows what is already in your system in order to recommend medications for you so they will interact properly. It wouldn’t hurt to also list over-the-counter (OTC) medications as well, as certain prescription medications don’t interact well with some OTC medications.
Should anything happen in a medical emergency that would prevent you from being able to make decisions about your care, an advance directive or living will gives medical care providers instructions about your wishes. Choices ranging from your desires about resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, organ donation and more are all included in an advance directive. You can also choose to grant someone power of attorney, which will legally enable them to make difficult decisions for you if you are incapable of doing so.
Keep Everything in One Place
Once you’ve accomplished everything on this Emergency Health Information Checklist, keep all of this information in one place. Whether you keep it all in a folder or in a binder with tab dividers for each section, the important thing is knowing where it is and being able to access it easily at all times. Make sure to continue to update your documents as necessary to ensure that everything will go as smoothly as possible should a medical emergency occur.
Hilary Young is a writer dedicated to helping older Americans live healthier, more fulfilling lives. She currently blogs for HuffPost50, Fifty Is The New Fifty and Medical Guardian. You can find her on Twitter as @hyoungcreative.