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Preparing For a Medical Emergency Part 2

June 15, 2009

We continue our articles on preparing for a medical emergency.

Known Allergies: Even if you take medication for them, be sure to list the specific allergies that you deal with. Also, if you have “unpleasant reactions” to eating particular foods (not really an allergy, per se), you should make note of that as well. During a medical emergency there are many factors that come into play and giving a treating paramedic and/or physician too much information is better than not giving them enough information.


List names, addresses, and phone numbers for physicians whom you are seeing on a regular basis (even if “regular” is a once-yearly physical examination). If you go to clinics for treatments (such as a dialysis clinic), list that as well. Physicians and other medical facilities may need to be contacted to get your most current medical records.

TIP: Collect business cards for physicians and clinics. Lay the business cards on a copier surface and simply copy all of the cards.

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Prior Hospitalizations and Surgeries:

Unless you are creating a Medical Emergency List for a child, it generally isn’t important to list the fact that you had a tonsillectomy in 1978. However, you should list all relevant hospitalizations and surgeries that pertain to an ongoing issue. Provide the hospital name, city and state, general date (October 2002 is sufficient, or just the year if that’s all you remember), and reason for admission. List the types of surgeries (by generality such as “back surgery” or specifically such as “laminectomy” if you have that information).

Current Physical Restrictions:

If you are under a physician’s order not to lift more than 5 pounds, or cannot drive because of medications you are taking, make note of that. If you have physical “limitations” due to arthritis, age, or any other general health factor, it is wise to note that as well. Remember that “more information” is always better than “too little information.”

Family History:

Physicians generally want to know about your own “immediate family” (grandparents, parents, and siblings): diseases, cause of death, age at time of death (if or as applicable). If you don’t know specifics, then include what information you do have (even if that information is “all living” or “unknown”).

Keep the Lists Handy!

Create a list for each member of the family (including newborns). If possible, include all of the information on one sheet of paper. Keep these lists in an envelope or folder that is in a readily accessible place. Make sure that all members of the household know where the list is kept (surprisingly, very young children often play a key role in getting emergency care for an older sibling or parent who experiences an at-home emergency).

If your 11-year-old son falls out of the top bunk in the middle of the night, all you need to do is grab that envelope or folder on your way out the door. All of the information an emergency physician will need will be at your fingertips because your mind will be on your son…not on remembering his pediatrician’s phone number.


Make 3 copies of each family member’s list. At the time of a medical emergency, you can just give the whole page to a paramedic, triage nurse, or ER physician so that it can be included in the patient’s chart.

Update the Lists!

When anything changes—a medication is changed, a new physician is seen, or you’ve just gotten home from the hospital—update the list! If you are pressed for time, then simply make a copy of something (drug printout from the pharmacy, discharge orders from the hospital, new doctor’s business card) and clip it to the list. As soon as practicable, formally update the list—and don’t forget to make NEW copies and discard the old ones.

Medical emergencies are stressful events:
Avoid some of the stress by knowing ahead of time that should an emergency arise, you have all the information a paramedic, nurse, or physician will need to treat the patient promptly and provide the care that is needed. Insurance doesn’t have to be expensive! eHealthInsurance – FREE Instant Quotes!

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