Here’s a handy checklist to help be more prepared if you have to go to the emergency room, or are taking a loved one.
Please bring with you:
- An updated medication list, including the name of the medicine, the dosage and the number of times a day you take it. The list should include any known allergies, as well as supplements such as vitamins or over-the-counter medicines. In an emergency, you may not be thinking clearly. Having a list of all medications you are taking helps your provider doublecheck for interactions between drugs and know the best dose for your condition. Tell your family members about it and keep the information in your wallet in a visible place, so if you cannot communicate, emergency responders will have access to the information.
- A list of your providers, including your primary care provider and any specialists you might be seeing, as well as contact information for your pharmacy. Medical conditions can sometimes be complex to manage. Sharing the list makes sure the emergency department can connect with the provider who best knows your situation, and also helps make sure your provider is ready for your follow-up care after you leave the hospital.
- An advocate. When you’re experiencing discomfort, pain or fear, you aren’t as likely to retain information. If you can, bring a loved one or friend with you who can help ask and answer questions and remember instructions.
- A list of your chronic conditions and any recent test results.
- Your insurance card. Federal law requires that anyone coming to an emergency department be stabilized and treated, regardless of their insurance status or financial condition. But if you do have an insurance card, it helps smooth out billing later on.
- If the visit is for your child or grandchild, grab your child’s favorite toy, blanket or other item that can serve as a distraction or a comfort. If you forget, ask if the hospital has a child-life specialist who can assist.
- Your questions – and don’t leave until they are answered. Make sure you understand the side effects of any medications and whether it’s OK to take them with any current medications you may be taking. Find out who you need to follow up with, if additional care is needed. Doctors and nurses are busy, but they also know that patients with a full understanding of the next steps are less likely to come back for readmission to the emergency room.