Before You Take An Elderly Family Member To The ER

  1. 16
    This was in a recent Dear Abby column and I just had to share it.


    DEAR ABBY: A friend recently shared some great advice. Her mom is 86 and in poor health, so my friend put together an emergency information briefcase for the trunk of her car and another one by the front door.If anyone needs to take her mother to the ER, all her important information is in two places. This includes medications, doctors, insurance cards, Living Will, power of attorney and family emergency numbers.I took my friend's advice, and it turned out to be a godsend when I had to take my 79-year-old mother to the ER after a serious fall. The admitting clerks said they wished everyone would do this. (I also included $100 in cash in a small envelope.) I hope you think her idea is worth sharing. -- GLAD I DID IN ALABAMADEAR GLAD: If the admitting clerks said they wished everyone would do this, then it's worth a mention in my column. Readers, advance planning such as this could save precious minutes in an emergency.

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  2. 20 Comments...

  3. 10
    I have a one sheet print out of my meds, allergies, doctor's names, surgical history, and medical history that I print out when I see a new doctor or have to go to the ER. I have asthma and if I can't breath I like not having to talk.
    Ir15hd4nc3r_RN, LTCNS, Katie13LPN, and 7 others like this.
  4. 2
    I also tell everyone that if you have a power of attorney or health care proxy or DNR, have a dozen copies and give them to every care giver, your local EMS, and have a copy in the car and in every purse or case. Yes, I know you gave it to the hospital at your last admission or your MD office the last time you saw them. It's in the chart in the medical records department, and your caregivers may or may not see it before they do something you expressly don't want.
    poppycat and sharpeimom like this.
  5. 2
    i'm an ER nurse and i think everyone should do this!!!
    Ir15hd4nc3r_RN and sharpeimom like this.
  6. 1
    I wear a medical alert bracelet for PCN allergies and MedicAlert, the company, allows you, for a fee of course, to file POA/advance directives with them so that when they call the number, all that info is available. My sons both wear bracelets (one is Type !, the other has PCN allergy like me) and that can be linked to them as well. I think it is well worth it.
    sharpeimom likes this.
  7. 1
    That is a great idea. I think my mom, aunt, and I should do this. Having a folder with a copy of her DPOA papers, her allergies, current meds, and medical and surgical history, and current list of care providers is a great idea.

    I will have to do this with my mom and aunt.
    sharpeimom likes this.
  8. 1
    I think this is a great idea but I have to ask if others have done this also? i did this with entire med hx and all medications he was taking, always up to date, for my relative that I brought to hospital on weekly basis and was often admitted, yet every doctor that came to see him had to ask thorough history when I had brought MULTIPLE copies and would hand the sheet to anyone who walked in. They never read it and continued to ask the questions. He has since passed away a few years back so perhaps things have changed but somehow I doubt it. What surprised me even more was that he was a patient in that hospital many many times for chronic health issues, so I know they also had his records. perhaps now with better EMRs this has changed?
    sharpeimom likes this.
  9. 4
    Quote from anangelsmommy
    I think this is a great idea but I have to ask if others have done this also? i did this with entire med hx and all medications he was taking, always up to date, for my relative that I brought to hospital on weekly basis and was often admitted, yet every doctor that came to see him had to ask thorough history when I had brought MULTIPLE copies and would hand the sheet to anyone who walked in. They never read it and continued to ask the questions. He has since passed away a few years back so perhaps things have changed but somehow I doubt it. What surprised me even more was that he was a patient in that hospital many many times for chronic health issues, so I know they also had his records. perhaps now with better EMRs this has changed?
    A couple of considerations:

    1. Ascertaining if a patient is cognizant of symptoms that have brought him/her into the ER today, as well as past medical history, is helpful in assessing mental status, as well as gives some insight into the patient's desired outcome.

    2. A printed (or electronic) list of meds doesn't mean squat ... until the ER nurses asks whether or not the patient is actually taking those meds, at the prescribed dose and frequency. So while printed lists are helpful ... I will always still ask.

    Oh and for the record ... it is generally unnecessary to list your blood type. No hospital (in the US, at least) will administer blood products without conducting a type & screen. If a patient is in emergent need of blood before a type & screen can be completed, the patient will receive O- blood. The only time it can be helpful for the patient or family member to contribute this information is if the patient is known to have an unusual aspect of blood type, antibodies, etc. and we can get a heads up that it may take an extended period of time for the blood bank to complete the cross match -- that could assist in decision-making about the plan to administer blood products if urgently needed.
    Last edit by Altra on May 21, '13
    Pixie.RN, sharpeimom, BSNbeDONE, and 1 other like this.
  10. 4
    Folks always think they are 'helping' you so much when they tell you their blood type. I find it kind of quaint and amusing - in a soap opera medical crisis sort of way!
    sharpeimom, BrandonLPN, Janey496, and 1 other like this.
  11. 5
    I like the idea. What I did was use technology. If you have a smartphone (or at the very least, email): Type a list of current meds, medical history, list of physician(s); scan in living will, POA, insurance info - then email all this to yourself and your backup persons with the title "DO NOT DELETE - (patient's NAME) Medical Info". It's with you everywhere you go. I've used this multiple times for a family member with many medical issues and multiple trips to the ER or doctor's offices.


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