Stressful Transitions I

Or what to bring to the E.R.

My family recently had the unfortunate experience of three Emergency Room visits in one week. This adventure has made me reflect on what we should have prepared in advance of an E.R. trip. Here are some lessons learned. They do not apply to emergencies where you are unable to communicate, as in a serious accident away from home. If you have unusual medical needs please consider a MedicAlert bracelet for any such emergency.

Emergency info. Bring your medication list, medication schedule, actual medication if you can and a summary of your personal information, including your preferred doctors and all insurance information. My family keeps a file in the kitchen that we bring to the E.R. and we beach dress make sure that all caregivers know where it is. Even if you do not have the file with you, keep it in an easy to access spot so that you can send a friend or family member to get it for you. There are several software applications that can help you organize this information, including DotFriday, which you can actually access in the E.R. on the hospital’s computer or on your mobile browser.

Food. Some E.R.s provide food at meal times and some don’t feed you unless you’re admitted to hospital. I haven’t heard of a hospital that provides food for caregivers (let me know if you have), so if you’re a caregiver it’s best to bring a snack.

Reading material. Crosswords, sudoku, your iPod or whatever you can use to keep you or your loved one busy. For our daughter we use DVDs and iPad games for distraction.

A pillow. If you can, bring a pillow from home. Pillows are often hard to come by in an E.R. and when you are sick they really matter.

A cell phone and charger. Running out of juice in the E.R. can cut you off from essential supports (like the friend who will bring you dinner and your pillow).

I hope that you never need to use these tips, but that they help if you do.


P.S. When you hear that a friend is in the E.R., consider bringing some of these essentials or offering to pick them up at home. Don’t take no for an answer. People can always use food. Helping out with children and pets is also appreciated. Don’t forget Rover!