As flooding hit parts of Texas last week and new tropical systems churn, physicians have advice for all Texas patients: Obtain a copy of your relevant medical information now, in case of an emergency later. Now, entering peak hurricane season, the Texas Medical Association (TMA) recommends everyone get a copy of their vital personal medical information, including current prescriptions.
“I think it is wise for every person – child or adult – to have their own medical information, including a current list of any medications they are taking,” said Gary W. Floyd, MD, TMA president. “Such information can be very helpful, if not critical, if the patient is displaced due to a natural disaster or public health emergency situation.”
Texans and patients from neighboring states displaced from hurricanes like Harvey, Rita, and Katrina understand the burden of evacuating their homes and communities for an extended time, unable to refill necessary prescription medicines in their new temporary location.
History shows it is common for as many as 1 million people to evacuate their homes in advance of a major storm, and many don’t know how long they will be gone. Presumably none of the Hurricane Katrina evacuees fleeing the 2005 storm imagined their relocation would be permanent, for example, yet 30,000 people displaced by that storm ultimately put down roots in Houston, according to one report.
Complicating matters, natural disasters have destroyed physician practices too, so even patients who were not displaced could not access their medical information.
The easiest way to obtain this information is to access records through the physician’s office’s online patient portal, which allows you to download and save or print your medical record summary. TMA surveys indicate most Texas doctors (89%) report having electronic medical records.
Keep A List Of Medications With You
Dr. Floyd said most patients can help themselves by having a list of their medications, notes on any regular health monitoring needed, a list of any allergies, and an updated vaccination record with dates. Some patients also would benefit from knowing their tuberculosis test results (if any), and a list of recent procedures, results, and treatments like cardiac tests and any treatment schedule.
“You never know when you might need this vital information, so we recommend acting now to have it on hand before an emergency arises,” Dr. Floyd said.
The Atlantic Ocean hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30, with the typical peak occurring in September. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a 65% chance of an above-normal hurricane season, with as many as 21 named storms likely, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 56,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.