Note: This is day 8 of National Preparedness Month . Follow this year’s campaign on Twitter by searching for the #NatlPrep hash tag.
This month, as part of NPM16, I’ll be rerunning some edited and updated older preparedness essays, along with some new ones.
It's the bane of every emergency responder, clinician, or healthcare provider; dealing with an emergent patient who (for a variety of reasons) is unable to provide even a rudimentary medical history.
Knowing, and having immediately available, a medical history on every member of your family should be part of everyone’s emergency plan.
As you might imagine, when someone is unconscious, or otherwise unable to respond to questions, getting a medical history becomes a real problem. And even when conscious, patients won't remember what medicines they are taking, or why.
If I had a nickel for every time a patient denied taking meds, but under the pressure of additional questioning, admitted to taking `a red one, a blue one and two white ones in the morning . . and 3 white ones at night’ - well, I’d have a lot of nickels.I never see my doctor without bringing him an updated written history. Sure, he knows me. But he sees hundreds of patients in his practice, and sees me only every few months. There is no way he can remember the details of my medical history.
So I provide him with a short, 1 page synopsis that he can scan in about 30 seconds, to make his life, and mine, easier (see A History Lesson to learn how).
Since you can’t always know, in advance, when you might need medical care it is important to carry with you some kind of medical history at all times. It can tell doctors important information about your history, medications, and allergies when you can’t.
Many hospitals and pharmacies provide – either free, or for a very nominal sum – folding wallet medical history forms with a plastic sleeve to protect them.
I’ve scanned the one offered by one of our local hospitals below. It is rudimentary, but covers the basics.
In a medical emergency, minutes can make the difference between life and death. And even in less urgent cases, having all of this information can go a long ways towards speeding your treatment.
You should make it a point, this week, to get medical history forms for every member of your family – regardless of their age – and fill them out.
Except for small children, everyone should find a way to carry it with them at all times.
This is not a one-time, make it and forget, prep. You need to update it every time you add or change your medications, or your medical history changes. It only takes a few minutes now.
But it could save a lot of time - and perhaps even your life - later.