7 Ways to Avoid Emergency Medical Care Mistakes
In Part one (1) of this seven (7) part series, you learned four (4) things you must know and have with you at the ER and what little known fact people overlook mentioning while at the ER. In Part Two (2), I am sharing two things ER staff must know to ensure correct diagnosis and treatment.
While medical staff at all medical facilities work tirelessly to save lives, we have an equal responsibility to ensure we receive quality care. Throughout this series, you will learn:
- Four (4) things you must know and have with you at the ER – Week One (1)
- What little known fact people overlook mentioning while at the ER – Week One (1)
- Two things ER staff must know to make sure correct diagnosis and treatment – (Week Two (2)
- Perhaps the single biggest way you can save your life
- How to talk to medical staff about your condition
- What NOT to do if you suspect you’ll need surgery
- Ways you unintentionally sabotage your diagnosis and treatment
- What seemingly irrelevant information you must share immediately or risk delayed treatment
Week Two (2), I am sharing:
Two things ER staff must know to make sure correct diagnosis and treatment
As a bonus and to round out this topic, I am also sharing what to watch for and what medications you should always have on hand!
Two things ER staff must know to ensure correct diagnosis and treatment:
Allergies may seem like a simple enough thing to share, right? There are different allergy categories including and not limited to:
A. Prescription medications and over the counter (OTC) drugs
Have a list of all medications and their symptoms (rash, hives, fever, diarrhea, throat itch, swelling, numbness, nausea, etc.)
B. Food allergies
This can include everything from peanut butter, eggs, nuts, milk, fish, shellfish, and everything in between. I would also include Lactose Intolerance in this category. The FDA identified eight foods that, by law, are considered the most common highly allergen foods. These eight foods account for 90% of all food allergies:
These eight foods, and any ingredient that contains protein derived from one or more of them, are designated as “major food allergens” by FDA.
Food allergy symptoms can be subtle, especially at first. It may not present as the ‘typical’ hives. It could be eczema, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, blood in the stool, or it could be other medical problems that crop up and aren’t necessarily ‘typical’ allergic reactions.
Being in a medical facility, it is crucial that medical staff are aware of any latex allergies. They certainly don’t want to make you feel worse than you already do.
d. Animals – including bee stings
Bee stings may be an obvious thing to watch for. Other common animals with varying allergic reactions (depending on where you live:-) include:
OK, enough of that! # 3 – 7 may be a ‘duh’. If someone hasn’t been allergy tested and comes in contact with a dog or cat and presents symptoms thereafter, it can be a problem.
e. Plants, trees, and flowers
g. Paint, perfumes, or other substances
i. Add to the list here…
2. Allergic reactions and recent medication changes
1. Known reactions to the above.
2. History of reactions and severity. Some allergic reactions may start mild. Perhaps the reaction is so mild you don’t seek medical attention. Know that allergic reactions typically get worse over time and there is no guarantee your reaction will be consistent.
3. Last known contact with allergens.
4. If you are starting or need to start multiple medications simultaneously, work with your medical provider(s) to start one at a time, wait a few weeks and then start the other medication. If a reaction happens and you just started two different medications, it may be difficult to tell what exactly caused the reaction and doctors may avoid giving you one of the medications that didn’t cause problems because they aren’t sure which medication it was or want to be safe.
What to watch for and what medications to always have on hand
What to watch for – Allergic reaction symptoms include and aren’t limited to:
- numbness in the area exposed to allergen or all over
- trouble breathing (from throat swelling or wheezing)
- tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth, throat, eyes
- hives (more than just a few) or flushing of the skin
- swelling of the face, tongue, hands, or eyes
- nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- discoloration of face or other areas
- trouble seeing or blurry vision
- dizziness or fainting
- abdominal cramps
- feeling anxious
- feeling flush
- mild hives
A severe, life-threatening allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis.
This can lead to:
- constricted airways in the lungs
- severe lowering of blood pressure and shock (“anaphylactic shock“)
- suffocation by swelling of the throat
What medications you must always have on hand – Whether you or a family member has been allergy tested or not or whether you have a known allergy or not, things you must have on hand include:
- Benadryl – for mild allergic reactions. OTC
- Take an antihistamine. Just remember some keep you awake and some put you to sleep. Choose accordingly. OTC
- To deal with a rash, apply various sprays and creams. Hydrocortisone should be a basic staple in households. There are prescription level creams too. Some pharmacies carry an anti-itch spray that contains zinc acetate which is good. OTC
- For skin reactions, take an oatmeal bath and avoid sunlight. This may help keep a minor allergic reaction from turning into a full-blown attack. OTC
- A variety of antihistamines. They have different ingredients, and some may work better for you than others. OTC
- Epinephrine injection most commonly prescribed in an Epipen – for serious reaction.* Prescription required
- Prednisone is a live saving drug used to manage reactions. However, it has its own side effects and should generally only be used for short periods of time. Prescription required
*If you have been tested and have an allergy, talk to your doctor about getting an Epipen. I recommend getting three (3) Epipens. One for home, one for school, daycare, or work, as the case may be, and one for traveling.
Last tip of the day: Check out the Food and Drug Administration site for more detailed information on this topic or instructions to report a drug or food problem with the FDA.
NEXT: Part 3 of my 7 part series – Perhaps the single biggest way you can save your life ( this one will be shorter)
Tandy Elisala, MA, CPSC, ACT, CHt, TFT-fAlg, is founder and CEO of Center for Inspiring Greatness.™ Tandy is a Care Giving Expert, Certified Professional Success Coach, Author and Consultant. She is certified in various alternative-healing modalities. Tandy has 25 years’ proven experience as a corporate executive, speaker and coach. Tandy was a full-time caregiver for both parents simultaneously while kicking cancer’s butt a third time and raising three children as a single parent. Tandy lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her three kids, two dogs, and three cats. Tandy’s book, Healing Through the Chaos: Practical Care-Giving is available for pre-order at https://www.tandyelisala.com.
© Copyright 2013, Tandy Elisala, http://www.centerforinspiringgreatness.com and https://www.tandyelisala.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline and bio, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Tandy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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