The Emergency Medical File Every Caregiver Must Have

A majority of men and women over the age of 65 take at least one medication on a regular and recurring basis. Of that group, a clear majority actually take multiple medications for different purposes. As a result, medication management is a critical issue for most people in their Golden Years.

Many older individuals have family members who do provide assistance when it comes to medication management and related matters. In most cases, these family members are the person’s spouse or adult children. As part of their efforts, together with the senior taking medications for a medical condition or condition, an emergency medical file should be created.

Carlos Paisan, M.D., is the medical director of MyCareClinic. In that capacity, she sees many patients and their families. Many lack an emergency medical file and are unable to effectively and thoroughly convey important medical details to healthcare staff.

Dr. Paisan points out that an emergency medical file for a senior can be useful in an array of situations that include:

  • Emergency room visits
  • Urgent care visits
  • Paramedics
  • Even a primary care physician (particularly a new one)

Some assisted living communities have developed a practice whereby an envelope is attached to the inside of each resident’s front door. The envelope contains what essentially is an emergency medical file as well as a copy of their power of attorney, contact information for doctors, and information relevant to any chronic conditions. In the event of a medical emergency, responding paramedics know where this information is located. They can retrieve the emergency medical file and take it with the patient to the hospital go. Medical professionals maintain that adopting a similar practice at the residence of a senior that lives independently is also a wise plan of action.

With this in mind, building an emergency medical file is highly recommended. The contents and elements of an emergency medical file for a senior should include:

  • List of medications
  • List of allergies
  • Names of doctors
  • List of medical conditions
  • Do not resuscitate order (if there is one)
  • Medical power of attorney
  • Most recent lab reports
  • Insurance information
  • Photo identification

List of Medications

The list of medications must be comprehensive. It needs to include not only prescription medications but over-the-counter medications a senior uses. The list should include dosage information and how frequently each medication is taken. In addition, it is wise to include on the list any supplements that a person takes.

List of Allergies

The emergency medical file also needs to include a list of any known allergies. This list needs to be as comprehensive as possible and include:

  • Medications
  • Additives
  • Preservatives
  • Materials like adhesives or latex

In addition to a list of allergies, a notation should be made in regard to the severity of the reaction. If a person has no known allergies, that notation should be made in an emergency medical file as well.

List of Doctors

The name and contact information of a senior’s primary care physician should be included in the emergency medical file. If a senior sees some sort of specialist like a cardiologist, that person’s name and contact information needs to be included as well.

List of Medical Conditions

General information about a senior’s more serious physical and mental conditions needs to be included in an emergency medical file. and medical history. This might include such medical conditions as:

  • Diabetes
  • Pacemaker
  • Dementia
  • Frequent falls
  • Past cardiovascular event (heart attack, for example)
  • Past cerebrovascular event (stroke, for example)

The inclusion of dates of some type of medical event is helpful. The names of associated healthcare professionals and contact information if there are different medical conditions are also helpful.

Do Not Resuscitate Order

If a senior does not wish to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR or does not want to receive intubation in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest, be sure to include a copy of their state-sponsored and physician-signed do not resuscitate order.

Medical Power of Attorney

If a senior has created a medical power of attorney, that should be included as part of the emergency medical file. The contact information for the person named as the agent in the medical power of attorney to make decisions for the senior should be included along with the instrument itself.

Most Recent Lab Reports

Including copies of a senior’s most recent lab reports can be very helpful for physicians who are trying to make a diagnosis and decide on a course of treatment. Examples of these types of lab reports include:

  • EKGs
  • Complete blood tests
  • Kidney function tests
  • Liver function tests

Insurance Information

All necessary information should be included in the emergency medical file. This includes both sides of all insurance cards including:

  • Medicare Supplemental Insurance (Medigap)
  • Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D)
  • Medicare Card

Photo Identification

Finally, an emergency medical file for a senior needs to include a copy of that person’s driver’s license or state ID card.

In summary, we already indicated one location where it is wise to keep a senior’s emergency medical file. It is also wise to have duplicate copies of that information located with other individuals as well.

First, if a senior has a primary caregiver, that individual should have a complete copy of that senior’s emergency medical file. Second, if a senior does not have a primary caregiver, keeping a copy of his or her emergency medical file with an adult child, sibling, or trusted friend is another suggestion. Finally, some seniors spend a considerable amount of time involved in volunteer work or some other type of activity at a particular location. Keeping a complete emergency medical file at that location is also a recommended course of action.

As a concluding thought, it is also important a senior’s emergency medical file be updated regularly. The reality is that in the cases of most people in their Golden Years, changes associated with information placed initially in an emergency medical file can occur in a very short period of time and with regularity as time progresses.