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March 25, 2008

Helpful Travel Tips for Seniors-Keep Your Health Information Close at Hand

There is always a lot to think about when planning a trip. What to wear? Where to visit? Where to stay? Just as important and almost always overlooked is being prepared for a health emergency. Visits to a hospital Emergency Department are usually sudden, unplanned and the last thing anyone thinks about!  Whether you're at home in the Boothbay Region or traveling here for a vacation stay, here are some helpful tips from the St. Andrews Hospital Emergency Department that can help the ED staff provide excellent care and customer service to you.                                                                

·       Carry a list of your current medications in your wallet or purse at all times.  In addition to the names of all your medications, also include the dose strength and the times when you take them.  If you take vitamins, herbs or other supplements be sure to include them.  Also remember that aspirin is a medication!  It is surprising how many patients we see who neglect to tell us that they take an aspirin daily.

·       Allergies are important and are not limited to medications.  Food and latex allergies are increasing.  Be sure this information is included with your list of current medications. 

·       Cuts, scrapes and burns are frequently treated in the ED.  You will most certainly be asked about your last tetanus shot, which is usually updated every 10 years.

·       Have you had a flu shot?  Pneumonia vaccine?  Hep B vaccine?  These records can be obtained from your primary care physician. 

·       Do you have a pacemaker or cardiac stents?  If so, you should have been provided with a wallet information card from your cardiologist.  It will contain the model and location of your device. Carry this information with you.  It can't help you if it's in a drawer at home.

·       We are now seeing cardiac patients who carry a wallet sized copy of their EKG.  Ask your doctor if this is a service they offer.  If not, obtain a copy of your most recent EKG and carry it with you, especially if you're traveling. Obtaining medical records between hospitals can be a time consuming process.  By being prepared, you can help yourself when time is critical. 

Hopefully you have found this information helpful and will take a few minutes to organize your health information into a compact portable format. It is well worth your time and can help healthcare professionals better serve you in a crisis. The Emergency Department at St.Andrews Hospital is here to provide you with excellent care and customer service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In an emergency, you can count on us to be there for you!

Duane MacLeod, RN

St.Andrews Hospital Emergency Department

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