Equipped to Survive: A trip to the ER
With all apologies to the folks over at Equipped, here are some thoughts on “surviving” a trip to your hospitals Emergency Room. Not necessarily YOUR trip, but a trip of a loved one.
As many of you know, my Mom just died after a long illness (lung cancer), and my Dad is not in the greatest of health. Over the last 18 months or so, I’ve probably been in the ER with one or the other nearly a dozen times. (Latest was yesterday – Dad is OK).
First – BE PREPARED to take them to the ER, or have them taken to the ER. By prepared, the Ambulance crew is going to want a few things: Their Name, Birth date (age), what medications they are taking, and known illnesses. Having this information written down ahead of time is going to save the crew a LOT of time, and they will be real happy to get it. Also, on the list – put down the names and phone numbers of their doctors (BTW, do this for yourself, your spouse and kids too).
Sometimes a simple “Oh – he has a pacemaker” can prevent them from scheduling an MRI. Or a “Hey, he has Paget’s syndrome” can prevent days of worry over shadows found on his bones during a cat scan (No – it’s NOT bone cancer)
So, where do you KEEP this information? Mom’s Hospice folks as well as the NYC EMS crews ALL have said the same thing – put it in an envelope, and stick it to their refrigerator – with BIG letters. If they call 911, and can’t tell the crew what is going on, the crew is going to check the kitchen for medicines – particularly the refrigerator for drugs that need to be kept cold. When they see the envelope – they WILL check it. It’s SOP for the crews. IF there is a DNR – keep it outside the envelope, in plain site. (BTW in NY state, DNR orders have to be renewed I think it’s every 30 days, and approved by an MD)
You should also keep a copy of this information where YOU can get at it. Towards the end with Mom, I actually kept copies with me at ALL times. You could get the call that they need you at the ER when you’re NOT at home.
I hope all of you keep your basic medical information with you – in your wallet – your MD, your drug list, and any known problems. It can save some real problems if YOU end up in the hospital, and can make life easier even if it’s just a visit to a new MD – just hand him the paper.