Sunday afternoon found me in a place where few of us expect to be, but all
can potentially end up: the emergency room at Carson-Tahoe hospital. I had
ripped a sizable chunk of skin and flesh off my hand; a non life-threatening
event, but one that doubtlessly would develop serious infection if not
The admitting person asked me a lot of questions: allergies to medications, medications taken, conditions being treated, name and phone number of local physician, name and phone number of nearest relative, and others. Although my injury was not traumatizing and I was completely alert, I couldn't remember many of the answers needed. Again, my injury wasn't of the sort that required emergency application of injections, or medications that I might be allergic to or might be non compatible with medications I was already taking, but had I been unconscious or unable to provide needed
information, the consequences could have been serious.
Treatment would be delayed until the information could be established or worse, the wrong treatment could be given.
It was only after I had left the hospital that I remembered that I had answers to all those questions and more in my billfold. Three years ago, when the Carson City Fire Department introduced its wonderful ambulance insurance program, I had written to Fire Chief Lou Buckley and Carson Tahoe Hospital Administrator Steve Smith suggesting that all who signed up for the ambulance service be given the opportunity to voluntarily fill in a form giving all the information needed by the paramedics and emergency room personnel to provide fast, accurate emergency treatment.
Chief Buckley responded and the next year provided a form for subscribers containing much of the information I had suggested, making it available to the ambulance emergency crews. I had hoped that the information would also be available at the emergency room in advance of the arrival of the patient so personnel there could familiarize themselves with the patient's history and special requirements, but Mr. Smith chose not to respond.
It was hoped that this would save critical time in admitting and reduce the possibility of improper treatment being given. When a patient is delivered by ambulance, and unconscious, confused or unable for any other reason to provide needed information, delay in admitting and the possibility of further delay of, or inappropriate treatment exists. Even though I was alert, I stuttered and stammered and forgot that I had all the information in my billfold.
The upside of this is, that by having the information in my billfold, had I been unconscious, the emergency room personnel would have searched my billfold for as much information as they could obtain and would have found my form. I felt three years ago that this information should be carried by everyone, and now, having actually gone through the emergency room admitting procedure, I am even more convinced.
I strongly recommend that everyone carry a small form giving the following
information: Name, age, blood type, if known. Allergies to medications. Health problems. Medications taken. Health care provider name and phone number. Name, address and phone number of nearest relative or person to be advised of emergency.
Health insurer, if any. Address, Social Security number and phone number of
patient. I would urge parents to make such a form for each of their children
and for aged parents. It can be typed and reduced in size by most copiers to
take up little space in billfold, purse or wherever kids carry things these
days; possibly taped to their skate board.
While in the waiting room, I had time to reflect on a few things: although my
injury occurred only about a mile from the emergency room, had I been unable to drive and required an ambulance, without the CC-Care ambulance service, I would have been responsible for a $600-700 expense.
As strongly as I urge all to carry the medical information form, I urge equally strongly that all sign up for the great ambulance service the city has provided for us. It is available only once a year, with signup no later than July 1 and costs only $50 per year covering all family members living in the same household for unlimited ambulance service locally and for medically necessary trips to other locations.
This is a great service provided by our caring and far-thinking city officials and one that I doubt any other city offers at such a low price. Please make your form now and remember to sign up for the ambulance service next June. Both are extremely important.