Important Personal Medical Information

What Essential Information Do Paramedics Need in an Emergency?

medical alert bracelet
Medical alert bracelets can help--if anybody reads them.. Stockbyte / Getty Images

It's important to keep certain medical information readily available in case of emergencies.

The worst case scenario of an emergency ambulance response is that the crew knows nothing about the patient. The good news is that we train for that very scenario more than any other. Many of our patients come with very little information -- sometimes not even identification -- and can't speak. We assess those patients as quickly and thoroughly as we can, treat life-threatening emergencies and transport them to the emergency department.

Write Down Your Medical Info

Of course, that's not the best situation for the patient. Ideally, we'd like to know more. Try to organize the information and make sure it is accessible at all times. Use a medical information form and include the following:

  • patient's name
  • birthday
  • allergies
  • medications with dosages. Be sure to include over-the-counter medicines and vitamins.

Include Medical Conditions

A condition is a medical problem that needs to be treated or managed.

Knowing about a patient's medical condition is helpful, but there is such a thing as too much information. I've had patients hand me inch-thick copies of their medical records, which isn't something I can look through during an emergency.

In most cases, simply giving us a diagnosis is good enough. As a paramedic, I want to know if a patient has diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, seizures or any of a dozen more diagnoses.

These are all common conditions that we are very familiar with, and I immediately know how each condition can impact the patient during this emergency just by the name of the condition.

When a patient has a condition we've never heard of, a good crew will ask the patient or family about the diagnosis.

Considering we've never heard of the problem, the resident expert is obviously the patient. To get the best result, boil the information down to the nitty gritty basics:

  • name of the condition
  • what it does to the body (keep it basic)
  • how it may impact this emergency

It probably isn't a bad idea to have a fact sheet about your condition handy if it's something you know most people won't recognize.

Emergency crews repeatedly deal with similar complaints. Even if we've never heard of your condition, we'll do our best to treat life-threatening signs and symptoms and get you to the hospital safely.

No Social Security Number

One note of caution: Never put a social security number on this list. It's not important for responders and if the list is lost, there is already a birthdate and name on the page.

Keeping this information handy will speed up the emergency care. Here are ways to organize personal medical information to make it easier for responders.

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