When you’re in the middle of an emergency trip to the hospital, the last thing you or a loved one want to worry about is updating or filling out necessary medical information. Preparing for these instances can make all the difference during an emergency.
The following tips can help you take control of your health information and ensure you receive the appropriate care in case of an emergency.
Make your medical information easily accessible
Keep a journal, log in your phone, or a medical wallet card that contains your primary care provider’s (PCP) name and phone number, and a list of current medications and allergies. Revisit this information regularly and update any changes. Let your family know where your list is so they can access it. If you have diabetes or another chronic condition, have severe food/drug allergies or take medications, like blood thinners, consider wearing a medical ID. If you need emergency care, this alerts personnel to your condition since it can change the treatment you receive.
Name someone to act on your behalf
Advance care planning documents, also known as advance directives, let you choose treatment/end-of-life wishes ahead of time. One advance directive is the Durable Power of Attorney (DPA) for Healthcare, which lets you name the person you want to make medical decisions for you if you can't make them yourself. Make sure the person you name is willing to make those decisions for you. This should also be the person you list as your emergency contact.
Prepare a living will
A Living Will is an advance directive that gives you a say in your care if you become too sick to communicate your wishes. You can state the kind of care you do or do not want in writing. Ultimately, this makes it easier for your loved ones to make tough healthcare decisions. Before filling out advance directives, talk through your options with your PCP. Make sure you provide your family and PCP with copies of any legal documents. For more information and resources, click here.
Review information annually
At your annual preventive check-up, review all of your medical information with your PCP, including emergency contacts and any legal documents in case you want to revise your care wishes. You should also update medications, allergies or health history in your personal log as necessary. If you have children, make sure their information is up to date and keep their records in the same place as yours.
Taking the time to prepare for emergency situations in advance, can be a huge help to you and your loved ones.
Sources: National Institutes of Health, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization