• Andrea Gill, RN BSN, BCPA


In the past few weeks most of us have been thinking about our own health and that of our loved ones more than ever before. We’ve heard about “underlying medical conditions” and seen reports of healthcare providers and systems around the globe being pushed to the brink. To decrease the spread of COVID-19, most medical centers no longer allow anyone to accompany gravely ill patients to the emergency room or visit them while hospitalized.

Have you thought about how you will quickly communicate your important medical information in the event you need emergency care? If you do not have it at your fingertips it will be difficult, if not impossible, to provide during a crisis. There is also a very real chance that your family member or caregiver will not be permitted to be by your side to help fill in the gaps.

One way to prepare for this is by creating a concise and easy to read document that captures crucial information necessary for medical professionals to provide timely and appropriate care. It should include the following items:

· General demographic information like your name, DOB, address and phone number

· Two emergency contacts and their relationship to you

· The name of your primary care doctor and any important specialists

· Allergies to medications and/or foods

· Significant medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart conditions, diabetes, cancer, asthma/COPD, surgeries, recent hospitalizations, etc.

· A list of your current medications and how you take them

Attach a copy of your insurance card and other important medical/legal documents like advance directives, healthcare power of attorney or HIPAA authorizations you have prepared.

Once you have completed your important medical information document, you need to keep it where it can be easily accessed in an emergency. Be sure to update it as things change so it remains current. Encourage your children, spouse, siblings, parents and others you care for to complete one and share it with anyone who will need it in an emergency. Consider keeping a file or picture of it on your phone in case you need to access it when you are away from home.

Carolina Patient Advocates has created a template you and your family members can use, and we are happy to share it with you free of charge. Request it by emailing us at info@carolinapatientadvocates.com. Having your important medical information readily available can help ensure you receive appropriate or even life-saving care. If you need the services of one of our Nurse Patient Advocates, we are available by phone, email and for video consults. You can reach us at 866-268-8525 or at the email address above.

Additionally, now is the time to initiate conversations with family members about their wishes related to end-of-life care. A fantastic resource is The Conversation Project.

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