How To Prepare For An Emergency Hospital Trip Long Before You Need One

Nobody wants to land in the emergency room with a friend or relative who seems to be having serious medical problems at any hour of the day -- or night -- but it's the sort of thing that you can make a little easier to handle if you anticipate what you might need to have handy when you dial 911. Here are some things to consider.

1. Is is really important to do this?

Everyone's situation is different. If you're a healthy 20-year-old with no medications and no significant medical problems, there's a lot less on this list that will apply to you -- but even you could use some of this information. If you live alone, having this information handy to give to the EMT or emergency room nurse could really save your life, especially if you're having trouble communicating because of pain or other problems. If you're the child or spouse of someone in their late 40s with health problems, even more of this list is going to be important.

2. Do you have a medication list?

You should have a medication list for every member of the family. Include each medication, the prescriber, the reason for the medication (many can be prescribed for multiple conditions), the exact dosage, and the frequency they're taken. If you know what time of day the medications are taken, that's even better. Ideally, keep all bottles in a separate bag for each person. That way you can "grab and go" and take the medication with you when you head to a hospital like Van Wert County Hospital.

3. Do you have an allergy list?

Everyone in the household should also have a list of their known allergies. Most environmental allergies aren't important, like allergies to dust or pollen, but you want to include things like a latex allergy -- which is becoming increasingly common. Record the allergy along with the individual's reaction to each substance. For example, latex may cause anaphylaxis, or the inability to breathe properly. Penicillin might cause hives. No matter what it is, the hospital will want to know.

4. What is significant about the person's medical history?

If the patient hasn't ever been sick before, then it's a short and sweet medical history. Odds are good, however, there are at least a few things to report. Include a list of all surgeries, even something you think of as routine or minor, like a tonsillectomy. Include pregnancies and C-sections. Include any hospitalizations for over a night. Include all the reasons he or she is on medication, including chronic conditions like arthritis or autoimmune disorders. Have a list, with phone numbers, of the patient's primary care physician and any specialists he or she sees.

5. Do you have a few extra comfort items handy?

While it may seem silly now, it won't if you ever need to grab the bag and go. Hospital waits can be enormously long, even if someone is brought in by ambulance. You'll spend a lot of time waiting and the patient may be sleeping for part of it or out of the room for testing. If you have a small bag of snacks, drinks, a spare charger for your phone, and something you can use for a distraction, like a favorite novel, a sudoku game, or adult coloring book, you'll fare better than you might otherwise. It might be wise to throw a roll of dimes or quarters into the bag as well -- just in case you need to hit a vending machine.

With these tips in mind, you'll take a lot of the trauma out of an unexpected visit to the ER and make sure that the nurses and doctors have the information that they need to get started on a solution for whatever brought you there.