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Tips on How to Handle a Medical Emergency | Consumer Reports


Health emergencies are
rarely anticipated, so don’t be caught off guard. Consumer Reports health
editor Lauren Friedman says having a plan in place
can help save your life. The more you know about
where to go and what to do, the better equipped you’ll be
to act quickly and decisively. Here are five tips to help you
navigate a health emergency. Not every health scare
requires an ambulance, so when should you call 9-1-1? An ambulance should be called
if a person is unresponsive, has a major change in behavior, or
is experiencing severe problems like trouble breathing, chest
pain, or signs of a stroke. And when you do
call 9-1-1, Lauren says be prepared
to answer questions about the nature of
the problem as clearly and calmly as possible. The dispatcher will also
ask for your phone number and your exact location,
including details, such as whether your
front door is unlocked, or if your house has a gate. Now, if anything changes, or you
get worse before we get there, you call me right back. Can you drive yourself? In a true emergency, driving
yourself or having someone else drive you can
be risky, especially if your situation becomes
more serious on the way there. In an urgent health
emergency, Lauren says an ambulance is always
the safest route to an ER. Ambulances and EMTs are equipped
to handle any escalating emergency. And the hospital will
know about your condition and be ready to treat
you quickly if necessary when you arrive. Should you head to
an ER or urgent care? ERs are open 24/7,
and they are equipped to treat or stabilize patients. And they’re required
to provide service even if the patient can’t pay. Urgent care center wait
times are usually shorter than at an ER, but they
generally aren’t open 24/7, aren’t required
to provide service to people who can’t pay, and
you might not see a physician. So you’d want to go
to an urgent care only for less serious
illnesses and injuries, like a sprained
ankle or the flu. And when is it all right
to just call your doctor? For minor but
persistent illnesses, it’s generally best
to make an appointment with your primary
care provider instead of making a trip to an
urgent care center or the ER. Having a list of your medical
conditions and medications can be vital to
saving your life. You should have
an up-to-date list of any medical
conditions you have and current medications you’re
taking, including supplements, and keep a copy of that
list on your fridge and another in your wallet
along with your health insurance card. You should also have a list
of who to contact in case you’re in a health emergency
along with the name of your primary care
doctor and any specialists. It’s also a good idea to add
an ICE contact to your phone and to a sticker on your case. And you should keep all of your
legal and medical documents together and
accessible, including your complete medical history. You’ll never know when a
health emergency will happen. But by following these tips,
you can now be ready for it.

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