Going to the emergency room (ER) is scary. Not only are you having a medical crisis (which is frightening enough), you have to contend with the fact that the doctors you see aren’t going to be familiar with you or your medical history.
Given that an estimated 250,000 people die every year in the United States due to medical mistakes, you need to take precautions.
What can you do to protect yourself?
If you have health problems, you’re actually in a better position to protect yourself from medical errors than someone who has a sudden health crisis. You can prepare in advance.
Here’s what you should have ready for an ER visit:
- A list of your medical diagnoses and medical history, including previous hospitalizations and surgeries
- A list of your medications, including the dosage, the frequency with which you take them and what you take them for
- A list of any vitamins or over-the-counter medications you take regularly or have taken recently
- A list of any drug allergies or sensitivities, including your exact reaction (anaphylaxis, hives, hallucinations, vomiting and so on)
- A list of your medical providers, why you see them and their contact information
When possible, it’s wise to take someone with you to the ER. That way, if you’re in no condition to ask questions about your condition or any proposed treatments, they can do it for you.
You should also consider messaging or calling your primary care physician’s office or the office of any specialist you see to let them know what’s happening. Doctors tend to listen to other doctors, so they may be able to contact the ER on your behalf to provide information about your treatment and suggest the appropriate care.
Medical malpractice is a major problem in this country. If you are victimized by a hospital’s mistakes, find out more about your options for fair compensation.