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As a physician in a busy Emergency Room and Trauma Center, Dr. Westfall has defined three crucial pieces of health information…

“When faced with an emergency health situation, there are three crucial pieces of health information that you’ll need most. The knowledge of this information can make the difference between life and death; or can simply make your diagnosis and treatment flow smoother" says Dr. Westfall. 

These three crucial health information categories are:


SynChart can track your medications
With the vast array of medication available today, it’s increasingly important to know what medication you and the rest of your family are taking. This is to ensure that any medication prescribed to treat the emergency situation does not have a dangerous interaction with medication already in the patient’s system.

Let me share a simple example. I treated a gentleman in the ER who was taking medication for joint pains and arthritis. When asked the name of the medication, he thought he was taking Celexa. However, after considerable investigation and multiple phone calls, I determined that he was actually taking Celebrex. Celexa is generally prescribed for depression and is safe to take with medications like Motrin or Advil, while Celebrex is not safe with these common medications.

The names of medications are complex and often difficult to recall, particularly in emergency situations. Having a complete list of medications being taken is crucial. This must include current and accurate drug dosages, the date you or your family member started taking the medications, the condition being treated, and the name of the prescribing physician. Ideally, having a list of all medications taken over one’s lifetime (current as well as historical) is helpful – to ensure treatment does not include a medication already proven to be ineffective or that has produced an intolerable side effect.


It is vitally important for the treating physician to know of any medication allergies you or your family members have. Beyond just the danger of a serious allergic reaction to a particular medication, the complications of dealing with an adverse reaction can prevent the physician from effectively addressing the problem that led to visiting the emergency room in the first place.

Immunizations: SynChart maintains your vaccination record.

Immunization history, especially when working with children, is invaluable to a physician.

Emergency room physicians use every bit of relevant crucial health information they can find to help treat the myriad of problems encountered each day. When the patient shows symptoms that can truly be caused by any number of problems, knowing which problems can be ruled out due to immunizations will help the physician reach a diagnosis faster and with less uncertainty.

There is no doubt that health emergencies can be chaotic and frightening. When people are thrown into this situation, they are focused on the problem and often forget important emergency health information. Because of the intense pressure of the emergency situation, information that actually is reported may not be entirely correct. It is a fact that, even in this stressful situation, patients and their caregivers are still expected to immediately and accurately provide details about every aspect of their emergency health record.

The sad fact is that many people who come through the emergency room do not know even one of the three pieces of crucial health information categories mentioned above. Unfortunately, misinformation can lead to delays, inefficiencies and mistakes. And, as medicine in general becomes more complex, it is increasingly difficult to accurately know this information for yourself and your family. Even as a physician, I find this overwhelming.
The question then centers on how to keep track of all of this complicated and detailed information. After all, more and more physicians and health resources recommend keeping a personalized health record in some form.

One approach some families follow is to write all of the information down and keep it in a file drawer in their house. Then, they record the most important information to keep on a card in their wallet. The problem with this approach is that very few people actually maintain this system, and it quickly becomes too complex to manage.

I know this because I tried it - and I failed miserably.

Yet, it is imperative for each person to keep good records of their health history. Throughout life, people everywhere experience relocation, insurance changes, the need for specialized care, or just simply a change of physicians. It would be impossible for the health care industry to be able to track all of this crucial health information for each individual.
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