John Roth, M.D. Emergency Medicine
Plan Ahead for Your Next Visit to the J.C. Blair Emergency Department
Medication errors – both in and out of hospitals – account for an estimated 7,000 deaths annually, according to a 2006 study by the Institute of Medicine. While great strides have been made in electronic medical records (EMR) in recent years, J.C. Blair’s Emergency Department staff encourages patients to take an active role in preventing medication errors by bringing a list of their medications with them when coming to the Emergency Department.
If you come to the emergency department (ED) or are hospitalized, you or one of your family members will be asked to share your current medications with your doctor, nurse, and other medical staff. Keep important medical information with you. The ED often does not have access to lists because physician offices and pharmacies are closed at night, on weekends and holidays. It's a good idea to carry in your purse or wallet a small card that notes the name and telephone number of your regular doctor, any allergies or chronic medical conditions you may have, and any medications (along with dosage) you may be taking. List any vitamins and herbs or over the counter drugs such as aspirin. This is important because some herbs and vitamins interact with medications. Also jot down whether you are pregnant.
“Bringing a list of your medications and medical conditions will save the ED doctor a lot of guesswork when trying to diagnose and treat your condition, particularly if you are unconscious,” said J.C. Blair Emergency Department Medical Director John Roth, M.D. “We will use your medication list to help determine what medications you should take while in the Emergency Department and what to prescribe when you are discharged from the hospital.”
Other important reminders when coming to the Emergency Department:
• Bring glasses, canes, walkers, etc.
• Know and write down the date of your last tetanus shot – bring this information with you.
• If there is a possibility of your being splinted or given pain medication – bring a driver.
• If you are a diabetic and have taken medication, but have not eaten, let us know so we have time to get you a meal.
• If small children are brought to the ED as patients or patient’s family, be sure to bring extra bottles, diapers, and snacks. Bring something to entertain them, because we do not know how long the visit may take.
• Treat fevers and pain before you come to the ED. This will make you more comfortable while waiting to be seen and having tests done. Children will feel better if this step is taken to reduce their pain and/or fever before they come.
• Please limit visitors to two. Rooms can be overcrowded if there are too many people visiting. If you have family members waiting for news at home, designate a family member to make the calls.
• If you are a family member and are waiting patiently in the waiting area and no one comes to talk with you about your loved one in a timely manner, ask the receptionist to call. We try our best to keep family in the communication loop.
• Be aware that Pennsylvania is in a physician crisis. Huntingdon County no longer has the specialists we had in the past. Therefore, we make transfers to other hospitals. Some broken bones, heart problems, and trauma cases may be transferred to neighboring hospitals.
Sometimes you can avoid a visit to the ED by calling your family physician first. He or she always has someone on duty to answer your call – nights, weekends and holidays. Call (814) 643-2290 and ask the operator to call the doctor on-call for your personal doctor. They will return your call and can often order outpatient x-rays, lab tests and medications. However, do not hesitate to come to the Emergency Department if you think you have an emergency.
The J.C. Blair Emergency Department is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to care for our patients regardless of condition or ability to pay. For more information about the Emergency Department, your emergency visit, or our emergency physicians, log onto www.jcblair.org.
To request a free wallet sized J.C. Blair Medication Record Keeper to record a list of your medications to be prepared in the event of an emergency, please contact the J.C. Blair Medical Services Call Center at (814) 643-8484.