by Wendy Johnstone
As we prepare for our upcoming webinar, Acute Care for Caregivers, I thought it would be handy to blog on a trip to the Emergency Department (ED).
I’m reminded of my last visit to the ED. After rupturing my Achilles tendon in a squash tournament, I was taken to our local hospital where upon arrival, I discovered I didn’t have my CareCard on me. Which surprised me, as I was certain it was something I kept in my wallet at all times. Even worse, I neglected to bring my phone which had all my emergency contacts in it. So here I was: in hospital, alone, heavily drugged and having to make some very important decisions.
Since we can’t bubble-wrap ourselves or the people we care for, the best we can do is keep critical information on hand in the event it’s required, including:
· Information required for hospital admission such as birth date, CareCard and other health insurance numbers, address and telephone numbers;
· List of medications (prescription and non-prescription) and allergies (both to food and medications); One of the easiest ways keep this current is to get a printout each time you visit your pharmacist;
· Medical history, past surgeries and recent hospitalizations also helps to speed up the diagnosis and processes. Otherwise, the hospital personnel are literally starting from scratch;
· Contact information for physician;
· Any type of health care directive
Of course, with any medical information, it’s best when current. Updating medical information is unlikely to be at the top of your to-do list; consider putting a reminder in your calendar or Blackberry in three- to six-month intervals. Make copies of your medical information and keep it in different locations. For example, some people keep a copy taped on the back of their bedroom door or on the fridge. It’s always handy for other family or neighbours to have a copy, too.
Some pharmacies carry a small vial that holds all of your medical information, and is stored in your refrigerator. It’s very handy for the paramedics or firemen to quickly locate and provides vital medical information and your medical history.
Finally, most trips to the ED average more than four hours, so don’t forget to pack your patience. Of course, up-to-date medical information is just one important aspect of a visit to your local emergency room. There are plenty more strategies, which we will plan to cover in our upcoming webinar.
And if you haven’t signed up yet for our upcoming webinar, here’s the link (https://thecaregivernetwork.ca/event/acute-care-caregivers/). The webinar will cover topics
from what to have ready to take with you to the ED; how to interact with health care providers, who to talk to and when; how to advocate for your care recipient without being labelled a pest, and how to work with acute care staff for the best discharge possible.