Written by SMH Emergency Medicine Pharmacy Resident Haden Geiger
Life can change in an instant. In a blink, illness or injury — a stroke, a heart attack, a car accident or something else — can take away your ability to speak or to think clearly.
During these situations, it’s important that your emergency care providers know what medications you’re taking and whether you have any chronic health conditions or current health problems. This information helps healthcare providers decide how to best treat you in an emergency.
So how can you ensure they get this information, if you can’t tell them?
If a patient is unable to communicate, first-responders, Emergency Care and Trauma teams will look for documented medical information in the patient’s phone, purse, wallet or backpack.
Make Your Medication List
Create and always keep handy a current list of medications, diagnosed health conditions and allergies. Be sure to list each medication you take, and include the drug’s name, dosage amount and dosage frequency. If space allows, include an emergency contact as well.
Printed list: Type up a medication list or write the list by hand. (You can find some examples by searching for “medications list templates” on Google.com.) Print the list in a business-card size for convenient safe-keeping in your purse or wallet; for a hand-written list, use a copier or printer to shrink it. If you don’t need to update the list frequently, cover it with clear laminating sheets for better durability.
Digital list: For most of us, storing this vital health information in our smartphones makes the most sense. iPhone owners can log medications lists and health data directly into the Apple “Health App,” which is pre-loaded on iPhones and is accessible from the phones’ lock screens. This means EMS doesn’t have to “unlock” the phone in order to view the information.
Android users can install the “Medical ID” app, which helps first-responders access critical medical information (medications, allergies and medical conditions) from the lock screen without using the passcode — much like the “Medical ID” function on iPhone’s Apple Health app.
Those with an Android phone also can add a short message that includes emergency info to the phone's lock screen; however, this message will be viewable to anyone who picks up the phone.
There are several medication-management apps on the market that allow users to maintain lists of medications and medical info, but most are not accessible to first-responders without a passcode. Reviews are good for these apps but we have not yet tried them: ICE Medical Standard, CareZone, ListMeds (iOS / Android) and Medisafe Medication Manager.
Need help creating your medications list? Talk with your physician or a local pharmacist, or reach out to us here at Sarasota Memorial; simply email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Haden Geiger, Pharm.D., is a PGY-2 Emergency Medicine Pharmacy resident at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. He completed his pharmacy education at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., where he also completed a four-year interprofessional internship in Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s emergency department before completing a residency at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center in Cheyenne, Wy.