DEAR ABBY: I work in a hospital emergency department in a suburb of Cleveland. Because your column is printed in newspapers across the country and beyond, I thought it would be the best way to get an important message out to the public.
Many patients come to the ER because they're in pain, confused, unresponsive, or have been subject to serious injury. Sometimes patients come to the ER because of what they feel is a minor problem. Then, after testing and examination, we find a more complicated problem that requires hospitalization. Many times finding the cause of the patient's situation can be difficult because of inadequate information.
The three most common areas of misinformation are medications and dosages the patient takes, medication allergies and past medical history. Occasionally no identification can cause a problem. Taking medications like Coumadin, Lanoxin, Dilantin, Depakote, digoxin, theophylline, phenobarbital and others requires blood samples to check the amount of the drug in the bloodstream. These medications, among others, can be responsible for anything from severe bleeding to seizures, severe lethargy, weakness, fatigue, abnormal heart rhythm and blurred vision. Unfortunately, these can also be symptoms of problems like gastrointestinal bleeding, epilepsy, meningitis, strokes and lethal arrythmias.
Patients will say, "You have my records here." However, hospital records are not a reliable source of the patient's current medications, because the medications and/or dosages often change.
The bottom line is: Know your past medical history (i.e., appendix removed, heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.). Know what medicines you are allergic to. Know what medications you take and the dosages. Think of it as "H.A.M.D." -- History, Allergies, Medications, Dosages. And last, but not least, write your name, medical history, drug allergies, medications and dosages on two pieces of paper. Put one in your wallet or purse, and one on your refrigerator, kitchen counter or bathroom medicine cabinet. This way, you will have them with you -- or someplace a paramedic can find them -- in the worst situation. It's for your benefit. -- RICK GEISHEIMER, R.N., MENTOR, OHIO
DEAR RICK: Thank you for the potentially lifesaving reminder. For most of us, making such a list will take only a few minutes. Readers, do it now -- don't procrastinate!
DEAR ABBY: My daughter is being married next year. We are planning an elegant evening reception. Her fiance insists that we invite his divorced sister's four young children to the reception. The children are extremely active, with short attention spans. We do not want children running around and annoying our guests. His mother and sister have put pressure on him, and he is in the middle.
My husband and I are paying for the wedding and feel very strongly about this. We are not inviting any children from our families. These people do not seem to fully comprehend the type of affair we are planning and that children do not belong everywhere. I think it's very rude and in poor taste to press this issue. How should we handle this? -- MOM IN CONNECTICUT
DEAR MOM: You are the host and hostess, and you control the guest list. Be firm in relaying the message, that the reception is for ADULTS ONLY.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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