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     Maintaining Up To Date Medical Records


Do you know what INFORMATION you need in a medical emergency? Being prepared can make a life saving difference in an emergency situation.
A UNIVERSAL TRUTH

Who needs to keep their medical information available and updated? Actually, ALL of us -- regardless of our health -- should keep good medical records, but very few do. We rely on the fact that we feel well now, but we forget that all it takes is an accident or serious illness to put us in the hospital. However for those at RISK, such as seniors, people with chronic illness, serious allergies or medication complications, special needs children and anyone traveling away from home it is something that should not be overlooked. Children should also have the proper medical information on them at all times if they have a medical condition or serious allergy.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?

"In a medical emergency, you might be UNCONSCIOUS or unable to speak for yourself," said Doctor Alfred Sacchetti, of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "That's why it's so important to make sure that medical personnel have access to your medical HISTORY, as well as relevant contact information. For example, knowing what medications you are taking could prevent severe drug interactions, and knowing what allergies you have could prevent serious reactions."
IT GETS COMPLICATED

Millions of Americans have medical CONDITIONS which should be immediately known to Emergency Personnel, such as:
  • diabetes (over 13 million)
  • diagnosed heart disease (23 million)
  • alzheimers
  • transplant surgery
  • patient's currently on blood thinners such as Coumadin
  • epilepsy
  • asthma
  • severe allergies
  • cancer patients
  • medication allergies such as penicillin and other antibiotics
These are all conditions that should be brought to the attention of emergency personnel. Additionally, many of us are reasonably health but getting older (36 million people age 65 and over) and our list of MEDICATIONS continue to grow with the years. With over 110 million emergency room visits a year, your emergency information may actually be the most important information of your life.
YOUR MEDICAL RECORDS

So what medical and health information should be maintained? Here are just some of the things recommended by Doctor Edward Stettner, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Emory University Atlanta, GA and other healthcare professionals:
  • Medical HISTORY -- a complete list of illnesses, chronic diseases, conditions, and the dates experienced, attending physician, treatments, and results of the treatment


  • MEDICATIONS and supplements -- a complete list of a drugs and chemical treatments you have received or are on now, including over-the-counter meds and nutritional supplements, herbal/homeopathic treatments, or vitamins


  • ALLERGIES -- an outline of any items you are allergic to, including medications, foods, environmental factors, animals, insects, plants, side-effects to treatments, etc.


  • SURGICAL history -- every in-patient or out-patient surgery or invasive procedure you have had, including the date, condition or situation treated, hospital, and surgeon


  • private PHYSICIAN -- a complete list of doctors you have seen in the past and who currently serve you, including primary care as well as specialists


  • emergency CONTACTS -- a list of family, friends, neighbors, doctors, or others who should be contacted in case of an emergency, with alternate numbers for each


  • your WISHES -- outline any advance directives, your living will, do not resuscitate orders, or any other special requests regarding your care


  • IMPLANTS or prosthetics -- list any devices or components that have been implanted in your body, including pace makers, dental implants, metal plates, etc.


  • Miscellaneous -- anything else of importance the doctor should know, including specific dietary needs, personal preferences, undiagnosed complaints, etc.
KEEPING EVERYTHING UP TO DATE

Today you have many options that allow you to have your emergency information available. Which one you choose should be based on your personal needs and risk factors. Of course, you can just pull out a sheet of paper and start listing -- but you run the risk of FORGETTING something important, and it's hard to format everything in a way that can be easily understood and updated. There are also many medical ORGANIZERS that you can purchase that offer a "fill-in-the-blank" system to prompt you with important questions about your health history. You then have a complete notebook filled with your medical info, that you can store in a safe place and take with you to appointments. Medical history and emergency information forms are also available on-line from the Mayo Clinic and the American Medical Association. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Emergency Physicians have also created an Emergency Information Form for parents of children with special health care needs.
SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME

There are also a number of MONITORING services available that will maintain your information for you and provide in home alert devices that will dispatch emergency services if the need arises. These are all good solutions for the home but do not provide coverage when you are away from the house. As a minimum, anyone with an existing medical condition or that has special emergency needs should wear some type of medical IDENTIFICATION to alert medics to their situation.
CARRYING YOUR INFORMATION WITH YOU

DIGITAL technology allows a very large amount of information to be stored on surprisingly small devices. Many business people carry an entire computer's worth of info with them on a removable drive that can be plugged into any computer. And the same is now available for your health history. MedicTag is an emergency information device -- a portable DRIVE -- that fits on a keyring. The device is simple to use and works with your desktop or laptop computer. Everything is formatted like a medical organizer -- simply fill out the information form on your computer, and you can make changes whenever necessary, always keeping your emergency information up to date. Take the MedicTag with you wherever you go. Emergency responders on site with a laptop or at the emergency room computer station can have INSTANT access to your vital information, even if you are unconscious, allowing them to diagnose and properly treat you with as little delay as possible.
WHAT'S YOUR NEXT STEP?

Do you need to have your emergency information available? For most of us the answer is probably yes. If not you, how about a child, parent or other loved one in your family? Considering the possible life saving BENEFITS, it is something that we should seriously consider, for safety and security that affects the whole family.

 

Edward Ricci is the founder of MedicTag -- which is available directly through www.OnlineOrganizing.com. He originally invented the MedicTag emergency medical information device for his elderly mother. Mr. Ricci has 20 years experience in the aerospace industry and quality control.


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