Having an Emergency Medical Packet Provides Peace of Mind
“Be Prepared” the Boy Scout motto reminds us, and this motto is a good one to take to heart when it comes to our health care, which can have many moving parts especially as we age.
Having an Emergency Medical Packet that you can give to a first responder, take with you to an urgent care center, or bring with you to a doctor visit or when you are hospitalized can reduce your stress and ensure that the medical professionals in charge of treating you have all the information necessary to give you the best possible care.
To create an Emergency Medical Packet, place all of your information in a large manila folder and store it where it’s easily accessible to you, family members, caregivers or emergency responders. That could be in a kitchen drawer, taped to the side of the refrigerator or in some other place where you can retrieve it immediately. If you spend an appreciable amount of time in another location, say a vacation home or a family member’s home, keep a duplicate set of health records there.
Your Emergency Medical Packet should include:
- Medications & Prescriptions. Keep a detailed list of all prescribed and over-the-counter medications and supplements, including the drug name, date prescribed, dosage, the condition the medication treats and any side effects.
- Allergies. List any allergies to medications, foods, or materials like latex and your reaction to them.
- Medical Conditions: To provide the best care, it’s important for doctors and emergency responders to understand any underlying medical conditions you might have, such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, stroke, a pacemaker, knee and hip replacements, etc. List dates, so that they can understand whether your condition is long-standing or a more recent change.
- Health Care Providers. List the name and contact information for your primary care physician, along with any specialists, such as a cardiologist or rheumatologist.
- Up-to-Date Contact List. Your contact list should include the names, addresses and phone numbers of your health care providers, along with emergency contact information of a friend, family member or caregiver.
- Insurance Information. Make copies of all health insurance cards, front and back, including Medicare, Medicaid and Supplemental policies. This ensures that billing is completed correctly.
- Photo ID. Include a copy of your driver’s license or another photo ID. Urgent care centers, physicians and hospitals expect you to provide this, although emergency rooms are required to treat you whether or not you can show ID or insurance information.
- Medical Power of Attorney. A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care lets you choose another person — attorney, family member or trusted individual — to act on your behalf to make your health care decisions when you are unable to. He or she communicates with your doctors and other health care providers on your behalf so that they understand your wishes.
Along with your Emergency Medical Packet, it’s a good idea to keep a small bag packed with essentials you’ll need if hospitalized or you have to leave home for another reason, like flooding or a long-term power outage. Some items you might want to include to make your stay away from home more comfortable:
- Spare pair of glasses and/or hearing aids
- Change of clothes
- Extra pair of socks
- Phone charger
- Earplugs and a sleep mask
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Comb and/or brush
- Hand sanitizer
- Book or magazine
- Small notebook and pen
- A couple of snacks such as granola bars
- A small amount of cash (at least $40)
When it comes to our health, being prepared with up-to-date information and documentation helps ensure we receive the best possible care especially in emergency situations when we are under stress and may not remember information that is critical to our well-being.
Shannon Lynch is the Executive Director of The Morrison Communities, which includes the Morrison Skilled Nursing Facility, Sartwell Place Assisted Living, Morrison Rehabilitation, and Summit by Morrison, a senior living community offering independent living, assisted living, memory care and respite care.
The Morrison Communities is a non-profit 501©(3) charitable community that has been providing quality healthcare to residents of New Hampshire’s North Country since 1903. For more information, go to www.themorrisoncommunities.org