When an emergency happens, whether it's a heart attack or a hurricane, it's critical that medical service providers have access to health information for anyone who needs assistance.
While you can't predict when an emergency may happen, you can be prepared. Make sure that key health information is up to date, accurate and handy.
Nowadays, you may find it useful to store this information in an online patient health record and share it with your doctor and emergency contact person. In fact, you may already have access to a patient portal, which is an electronic health information tool offered by many insurance companies, employers and health care institutions.
If you have children, it is important to handle their emergency health information similarly. You may not be available to provide needed information in an emergency.
Include in your health record, whether digital or paper, the following information:
- Your name, age and sex
- Your address
- Your medication names, doses and schedules
- Your medical equipment
- Your chronic medical conditions, such as epilepsy
- Medical consent form
- Aspects of your health history that could be helpful to emergency medical responders, including allergies and immunization record
- Phone numbers for professional emergency contacts, such as your family doctor, local emergency services, emergency road service providers, and the regional poison control center
- Phone numbers for a personal emergency contact, such as a friend or a family member who you've asked to serve in this role
Many people store their personal health information online with the help of an app or a service. This method allows you to access your information anywhere with a computer or a mobile device. Some tools also help you share information with your doctors, family or emergency contact person. The most important thing is to make sure it can be made readily available in an emergency or if you're unconscious.
Two options for storing your information online include:
- Free or subscription-based personal health record. A personal health record (PHR) includes your most important health information. It's like the electronic health record that your doctor may keep for you. But with a PHR, you maintain it and determine who has access to it.
- Patient portals. Many health care providers, insurance companies and employers offer their clients or staff access to their electronic health record via patient portals.
Other storage options
Oct. 13, 2022
- Print versions. If you choose to maintain your emergency health information on paper, keep a number of print copies in handy places. For example, put a copy in your purse, vehicle glove box, first aid kit and emergency kit. You could even try making one small enough to fit in your wallet or on an index card. Consider posting the index card on your refrigerator door so emergency personnel can see it quickly if needed.
- Portable digital device. Put the list on a cell phone, thumb drive or other device that you keep with you.
- Build a kit. Department of Homeland Security. https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit. Accessed Nov. 9, 2018.
- Keep it with you: Personal medical information form. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/kiwy.asp. Accessed Nov. 9, 2018.
- How can digital tools help me manage my health information? Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.healthit.gov/faq/how-can-digital-tools-help-me-manage-my-health-information. Accessed Nov. 9, 2018.
- Home first aid kit. American College of Emergency Physicians. http://www.emergencycareforyou.org/health--safety-tips/home-safety/home-first-aid-kit/#sm.0001mmaubcoejfa5v3k2ayc3htm4o. Accessed Nov. 9, 2018.