As someone with a chronic medical condition, you know your body the best. You have worked for years to develop a good rapport with your regular health care providers, and you trust them.
What happens, however, when you’re in a crisis and you have to seek emergency care? Suddenly, you’re thrust into an atmosphere where the doctors don’t know you, your history or the particular quirks of your condition. How do you protect yourself in those kinds of situations from medical mistakes? Here are some suggestions:
Get a medical ID
A medical alert bracelet that has your name, major diagnoses and any drug allergies on it can save your life if you’re unable to speak for yourself. If you have a medical crisis while you’re out somewhere on your own, it can speed up a doctor’s diagnosis and make sure they’re looking at the right thing. It can also keep the emergency room doctors from giving you drugs that could actually make your condition worse.
Carry a list
If you need emergency care, you want the hospital doctors to have as much information available as possible, but it’s hard to think straight when you’re sick or hurting. The best solution is to keep a list in your bag or wallet of all your medical providers, their contact information, your diagnoses and any medications you may be taking (including dosage). This can be handed off quickly to a nurse or doctor and potentially save your life.
Give someone your power of attorney
A medical power of attorney gives someone you trust the ability to step in and orchestrate your medical care – including speaking with your doctors – when you’re unable to act for yourself. This can be invaluable if you’re struggling with a sudden medical event.
No matter what your underlying conditions are, you have the right to expect a certain standard of care. If you were injured by a medical provider’s negligence, find out more about your legal options.