Sunday, September 18, 2016

Guest Post: Are You Prepared for Medical Emergencies?

By Faith Munsell
Slidell Memorial Hospital

Medical emergencies tend to be stressful and traumatic emotionally and financially. Being well-equipped for any emergency situation is always the best way to reduce the negative impact that they can have on your home, your work, and your financial well being. Take a look at these tips to learn how to minimize the threat of disaster before it strikes.

Have first-aid kits at home and in your car.

Having a well-stocked first-aid kit helps in ensuring a timely and effective response to sudden illnesses and injuries. Make sure that you always have one in your home, in your car, and wherever you go. You can buy pre-assembled kits from pharmacies or you can also assemble your own. Apart from staples such as bandages, adhesives, scissors, and a flashlight with batteries, your kit should also include any personal medications such as anti-allergies, anti-hypertensives, and the like. The American Red Cross has a complete list of first aid kit essentials.

Learn CPR.

CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a basic skill that anyone can and should learn, because approximately 70 percent of heart attacks occur at home. Sadly, over half of Americans feel powerless during such emergencies because they are unaware of CPR basics. This doesn’t have to be the case. Organizations such as the American Heart Association and American Red Cross regularly offer CPR courses and it takes only one phone call to register.

Keep all numbers to hospitals and emergency room facilities handy.

Even with CPR knowledge, there are cases that require the expertise of board-certified emergency physicians and medics. Situations such as bone fractures, stroke, and diabetic emergencies require specialized care that only facilities with emergency clinic personnel can provide.

Make sure to have the numbers of these types of facilities readily available via an "emergency services near me" list. Inquire about services in each hospital in your area. Is it a full-service hospital with specialized treatments and emergency services? Do they have physicians, specialists, and nurses at the ready? Do all laboratory and triage services operate on a no-holiday basis? For those living in Slidell, Slidell Memorial Hospital covers all of these emergency services on a 24/7 basis. The hospital has its own dedicated centers for birthing, heart, oncology, sleep disorders, and SMH imaging. Outpatient and rehabilitation services are also available.

Know the warning signs of a medical emergency.

Apart from CPR, it’s also helpful to learn about some of the most classic indicators of a medical emergency. According to The American College of Emergency Physicians, some warning sights may include difficulty breathing, confusion, or an alteration in mental status or behavior, uncontrolled bleeding, sudden dizziness, sudden vision changes, chest or abdominal pressure or pain for over two minutes, slurred speech, uncontrolled bleeding, severe diarrhea or vomiting, coughing up or vomiting blood, and suicidal thoughts.

Note though that not every one of those listed here comprise a medical emergency as is, so it’s always best to seek professional help.

Make a complete list of your family’s medical information and consent forms.

A complete list of each family member’s medical information including known illnesses, surgeries, medications, physicians sought, and hospitalization history can help physicians arrive at appropriate interventions faster when emergencies arise. Take the list with you to the ER.

Along with medical history, it’s also a wise practice to have everyone’s consent forms ready, just in case authorization for a procedure or treatment is required and the concerned family member is unable to offer medical consent.

Medical emergencies need not be more stressful than they are. With proper preparation, you can help save lives and reduce the devastating effect of emergency situations.

Slidell Memorial Hospital, in Slidell, Louisiana, is focused on improving the quality of life for members of its community and beyond. This post originally appeared on the SMH Health Services Blog and is used with permission.