Would your loved ones know the answers?


By Cathleen H. Summers

If you were to have a medical emergency, could your loved ones provide the information doctors would need to care of you?

For example, do they know the names and phone numbers of your doctors? What about your health insurance policy numbers or your health care directives? Is there a list of your current medications, and is it up-to-date?

It only takes a few minutes to collect and write down this vital information that can save precious time in an emergency. Take time now to gather these and other essential details about your health so that the information is easily accessible.

To get started, consider five things you should share with your loved ones about your health:

•Names of your doctors: Make a list of all of your physicians, with the correct spelling of their names and their phone numbers. Why? In case of an emergency, your doctors can likely provide specific details about your health histories, medications and other important facts.

•Allergies and other medical conditions: A list of known allergies may prove invaluable during an emergency — especially if you are allergic to a specific medication, such as penicillin. It’s also important for your loved ones to know about your medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, as well as past surgeries and major medical procedures, such as implantation of a pacemaker.

•Birth dates and insurance information: Medical records and insurance information are often referenced according to birth date. Ensuring that your loved ones have your birth date accurately recorded may help ensure that your records can be quickly located. It’s also helpful to make sure that your insurance company and policy numbers are easily located.

•Medications and supplements: Keep an up-to-date list of your medications and any supplements that you may take. During an emergency, this information could prove to be a life saver. Blood thinners, for example, could lead to heavy bleeding, and certain vitamins or herbal supplements could interact with medications given in an emergency situation.

•Advance directives: Advance directives are instructions about future health care, such as whether to use life-support machines or attempt resuscitation. It is important that you discuss your health care related wishes with your loved one and put into place the proper advance directive documents (health care proxy and living will) should you be unable to make medical decisions for yourself.

Remember, the more your loved ones know about your health history, the better prepared they will be to assist you in an emergency.