In Your Face — More than Snark!


OK, so we have a saying at,

If your medical history and information isn’t available ‘In Your Face’ …in print and in the hands of a paramedic or emergency physician, it doesn’t actually exist.

Here’s what we mean, exactly …

When the chips are down, the best information is information that can be gleaned IMMEDIATELY — complete information that takes only seconds to view and absorb; information that can help determine an appropriate medical response in-the-moment, as time is often a critical factor.

For example, today paramedics in the field and medical centers nationally are working hard towards a goal of 20 minutes ‘door to drugs’ when a patient is suffering (or suspected of) a stroke.

TPA, the advanced clot-busting medication, can prevent further, often permanent damage or death, but only if administered quickly upon arriving at the ER.

If a stroke is suspected, everything happens at hyper speed and obtaining your medical history can’t happen casually.

The medical teams in the field and the ER need it like, yesterday!

There are a plethora of devices, mobile apps and emergency alert systems on the market and most do a fantastic job providing a specific service based on a specific need. But most are inadequate for various reasons at communicating a complete medical history, including the most pertinent information necessary during an emergency medical crisis in the most easily absorbed
method — in print (#1) or on a mobile device, clearly up to date and without having to take additional action. In other words, front and center ‘in the face’ of those who need it the most when they need it.

A printed outline follows you to the ER, and if you’re admitted, it goes with you to the floor as part of your medical record for everyone caring for you to see …everyone up-to-date on you history instantly.

Many of these products and services offer a more detailed medical history that can be obtained by calling a specific toll free number, or accessing a personal database or web portal, but there’s several problems I’ve encountered with that process:

  • The method of obtaining more, and I suggest, often critical information is not easily accessible in the field by paramedics, especially in rural areas that often depend on small, often volunteer emergency responder staff.
  • Few have the means to put vital (and in many cases, legally necessary) documentation, such as Advanced Directives, DNR’s or POLST in the hands of a paramedic.
  • Any delay of ‘the whole picture’ can delay care and thus, put a patient at unnecessary risk.
  • These products and services force patients or their loved ones to once again be placed in a position of having to give medical information from memory during a very stressful time in which important details can be hard to recall.
  • There’s often little evidence that the information provided is CURRENT!
  • And perhaps most importantly, NOBODY EVER CALLS A TOLL FREE NUMBER!

OK, so I’ll revise that last one, as I’m sure somewhere, someone has made that call. Perhaps thousands have. However, never, not once, not ever in all the years I worked in the emergency rooms of three major medical centers in large metropolitan areas did any nurse or physician ask me to call a toll free number associated with an emergency medical bracelet, device or home alert service to obtain more information.

If your medical crisis were serious …I mean really serious, would you want a paramedic caring for you with one arm tied behind his/her back?

So, my rule is simply this: If it’s not ‘in your face’ (print!) it doesn’t exist …at least not in the most readily available and transferable form when you need it the most.

I’m not saying other programs and services aren’t great, just that in our experience, In Your Face is much better.

Posted in Advanced Directives/ DNR/ POLST, Chronic Care, Outline Tips.

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