It’s common for seniors to have several chronic medical conditions that must be closely monitored and for which they take any number of prescription medications. Family caregivers usually are given a crash course in nursing and managing medical care, when they start helping an aging loved one. The greatest lesson is that organization is key, which is especially true when a senior requires urgent medical care.
Physicians encounter countless patients and families who struggle to convey important medical details to health care staff, according to The (Battle Ground, WA ) Reflector’s recent article titled “The emergency medical file every caregiver should create.”
A great solution is to create a packet that contains information that caregivers should have. Here’s what should be in this emergency file:
Medications. Make a list of all your senior’s prescription and over-the-counter medications, with dosages and how frequently they’re taken.
Allergies. Note if your loved one is allergic to any medications, additives, preservatives, or materials, like latex or adhesives. You should also note the severity of their reaction to each of these.
Physicians. Put down the name and contact info for the patient’s primary care physician, as well as any regularly seen specialists, like a cardiologist or a neurologist.
Medical Conditions. Provide the basics about your senior’s serious physical and mental conditions, along with their medical history. This can include diabetes, a pacemaker, dementia, falls and any heart attacks or strokes. You should also list pertinent dates.
Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order. If a senior doesn’t want to receive CPR or intubation if they go into cardiac or respiratory arrest, include a copy of their state-sponsored and physician-signed DNR order or Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form.
Medical Power of Attorney. Keep a copy of a medical power of attorney (POA) in the packet. This is important for communicating with medical staff and making health care decisions. You should also check that the contact information is included on or with the form.
Recent Lab Results. Include copies of your senior’s most recent lab tests, which can be very helpful for physicians who are trying to make a diagnosis and decide on a course of treatment without a complete medical history. This can include the most recent EKGs, complete blood counts and kidney function and liver function tests.
Insurance Info. Provide copies of both sides of all current insurance cards. Include the Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) and Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) cards (if applicable). This will help ensure that the billing is done correctly.
Photo ID. Emergency rooms must treat patients, even if they don’t have identification or insurance information However, many urgent care centers require a picture ID to see patients. You should also include a copy of their driver’s license in the folder.
Once you have all the records, assemble the folder and put it in an easily accessible location. Give the packet to paramedics responding to 911 calls. It should also be brought to any visits at an urgent care clinic.