Quick access to medical records help paramedics save lives - AmericaNowNews.com

Quick access to medical records help paramedics save lives

  • Quick access to medical records help paramedics save livesMore>>

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More than 700,000 people end up in the emergency room each year due to an adverse drug event according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An adverse drug event occurs when a patient suffers a serious reaction after receiving the wrong medication.

Sometimes, it happens during an emergency when paramedics are scrambling to determine what's wrong with a patient. 


Some adverse drug events can be prevented.

When a medical emergency occurs, seconds count. 

Don Overcash is a paramedic with Mecklenburg EMS Agency located in Charlotte, NC. He says going into a home with no medical record available makes a paramedic's job even more difficult.

"It's like a puzzle with some of the pieces missing," Overcash told America Now Reporter Jeff Rivenbark. "When you are dealing with somebody's life, you want to have as clear a picture as you can get."

Nell Lawing knows how stressful it can be trying to remember the names of all the medications her husband takes.

"One morning, I couldn't wake him up," she recalled. "So, I called 911, and about the first thing they ask you for is -- What medication is he on?"

One way you can paint a clearer picture of your loved one's health for a 911 operator or paramedics is by creating a personal medication record before an emergency occurs.

"I don't think we think about those things enough and there are a lot of medical mistakes," Lawing said. "They are made when they [paramedics and medical staff] don't know the information about the person they are treating."

Making this critical information more readily available to first responders is the reason Reenie Feingold, President of a New York company called StoreSMART, created the Vial of Life and the National Yellow Dot Program which are now used in many municipalities across the country.

"It's the simplest way without any technology to communicate to a first responder so people's healthcare can be properly identified," Feingold said.

The Vial of Life and the National Yellow Dot program involve writing down your medical history and all the medications you are taking.

The Vial of Life is usually placed on the outside of your refrigerator.  The Yellow Dot goes on your vehicle's back window.

If you are ever in a wreck, the yellow dot lets paramedics know to look in the glove compartment for a copy of your medical history.

Since the Vial of Life and the National Yellow Dot Program isn't available in all communities across America, paramedics say the best thing you can do is write down your personal medication record, and keep it in a handy place at home.

"When we get there, we really need to know their medical history, any medications they're taking, and any allergies they have," Overcash said.

But that's just part of what first responders need to know.

You should also include your physician's name, contact information for immediate family members, and a picture so paramedics will know who all this information is for.

The last two pieces to this puzzle include a copy of your living will or other advance directives.

Paramedics say they're often told a patient has a living will, but family members usually don't know where to look for them in an emergency.

It's also a good idea to include in your personal medical record which hospital you prefer to be taken. This information is especially important if there are several hospitals or medical centers where you live.  

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