Judy fell and broke her hip. She calls 911. She lacks a medication list. As a result, the hospital team is unaware of her chronic conditions. Her daughter lives far away and doesn’t know if she should fly in.
Accidents by their very nature are unplanned. That doesn’t mean you need to be unprepared for a fall or a serious incident (e.g., a heart attack or stroke).
Those who are prepared and have a professional advocate, such as a care manager, are more likely to get the care and the outcomes they desire. Plus, they can recuperate in a setting most in line with their personal needs and preferences.
To be prepared, you need
- current documents. Key to avoiding problems is the ability to give emergency and hospital personnel a list of current medications, your medical history, and an up-to-date list of your doctors and their phone numbers. Copies of all your insurance cards will speed the clerical side of the process. You will also need an advance directive that names your health care decision maker(s) and your preferred treatments.
- up-to-date decision makers. Does the person you have chosen know and understand your treatment preferences? Does the rest of the family know and respect that he or she “speaks for you”? Does your decision maker have a medical background? Is he or she nearby enough or able to drop everything and come to your side?
- a professional advocate. Often family or trusted friends cannot be present at a moment’s notice. And most people are not conversant with medical procedures. A professional advocate, such as a care manager, has met with you prior to the emergency. He or she can fill in the medical team and communicate your personal priorities. A care manager can advise decision makers by providing insight about treatment choices: Pros and cons and likely outcomes vis-à-vis your values. A care manager can keep long-distance relatives informed and make recommendations regarding the need to travel. When it’s time to leave the hospital, a care manager can recommend the best support facilities on the basis of your resources and personal preferences. As you plan ahead for emergencies, you will want to make decisions about hiring a professional advocate. Some care managers offer the option of 24/7 emergency, on-call coverage. Others do not.
Ideally, all this information is available on your person or is readily accessed should you get into an emergency situation.
Want help getting prepared for a medical emergency?
Give us a call: 256-489-7573.