Could you remember important information about your child's health in an emergency?

That can be hard, so doctors suggest that parents keep a record of their kids' important health facts handy. This can help a medical team make a better, quicker diagnosis when time really counts.

What Should a Medical History Include?

Making a complete written or computer-based medical history for your kids is a good idea. Be sure their medical records have this information:

Allergies

This is especially important if a child is allergic to any medicines — penicillin, for example — or other antibiotics. Allergies to food, dye, or contrast material (dye or other substances used in tests like CAT scans) can come into play, too, so make note of anything your child has had a reaction to. Kids who've previously been hospitalized may have developed latex allergies.

This information can sometimes help emergency personnel find a cause for problems such as breathing difficulties and hives.

Medicines

Your handy medical record should list any medicines, including dosages, that your kids currently take. Some medicines react badly when taken together, so the paramedics and doctors need this information before they give a child anything. You'll need to know when a child took the medicine last and how much was taken.

Pre-Existing Problems

It is also very important for emergency personnel to be told of any health problems or illnesses a child has had. For example, does your child have diabetes, a bleeding disorder, or asthma? These pre-existing conditions can have a huge effect on which tests and treatments are used in an emergency.

Kids who have a chronic health problem or a known allergy should wear an identifying tag on a necklace or bracelet. This kind can help doctors who are providing emergency care, especially if a child suddenly becomes ill at childcare, school, or a friend's house.

Don't forget to include the dates of any surgeries your child has had — this can be important to the course of treatment in an emergency.

Immunizations

Keeping a clear and up-to-date record of your kids' immunization history can help doctors do a better job of diagnosing a problem in an emergency. If the doctor suspects that a child has an infection, for example, it may save much time to know that the child has had a particular immunization.

The staff at your doctor's office can help you compile information on your kids' immunization status.

Weight

There may not be time to weigh a child in an emergency. Having a recent weight handy can help doctors calculate dosages of any medicine that may be needed.

Family History

A family medical history is helpful information to have on hand. Doctors usually ask if anyone else in the family has any medical problems because this can be important when diagnosing and dealing with a current illness.

You might not be able to recall all this information in an emergency, so add it to your kids' medical records.

Information for Caregivers

If your kids spend time in a childcare center or with a babysitter, you'll want to add other information to the medical record.

Besides instructions on how to reach you quickly, your care provider should have the name and phone number of your child's doctor and dentist. This will help the caretaker contact the office where your child's full medical history is on file — in case you can't be reached.

And if you'll be away from your kids for a longer time, such as for a vacation or business trip, and they stay with a sitter or family member other than your spouse, you'll want to leave a release allowing that person to authorize medical care. (Note: In the event of a life-threatening emergency, a medical release isn't necessary. Medical personnel are authorized to do what they must to save the life of someone involved in an accident or other emergency.)

It doesn't take long to compile a written or computer-based medical history for your kids. And doing so could mean saving critical minutes — when they count most!

Back to Articles


Related Articles

Electronic Health Records

Because EHRs improve how well your doctors talk to each other and coordinate your treatment, they can enhance your overall care. This article gives the facts on electronic health records.

Read More

First Aid & Safety Center

Boo-boos, bug bites, and broken bones - oh my! Here's your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about how to keep kids safe.

Read More

When and Where to Get Medical Care

Should you head to the ER when your child is hurt or ill? What about an urgent care center? Different problems need different levels of care, and you have many options.

Read More

How to Use 911

You can be a big help when someone is hurt or in danger. How? By dialing 911. Find out more in this article for kids.

Read More

When It's Just You in an Emergency

In a medical emergency, kids can be heroes just by calling for help. Find out more in this article for kids.

Read More

Choosing and Instructing a Babysitter

One of your most important tasks as a parent is finding a qualified babysitter. Here are some essential tips on choosing and instructing a babysitter.

Read More

Electronic Health Records

Many health institutions digitally store their patients' health information. Learn about electronic health records (EHRs) and how they can improve health care.

Read More

Going to the Emergency Room

Knowing what to expect when you need to take your child to the emergency room can help make it a little less stressful.

Read More

What Happens in the Emergency Room?

When you need help right away, you can go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. This article tells you what will happen when you get there.

Read More

Your Medical Records

Each time you hop up on a doctor's exam table, somebody makes a note in your medical records. There may come a time when you need your medical information, so find out how to get it and how it's protected.

Read More

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2019 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

Search our entire site.