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What to do if you are facing a medical emergency?

Check out this article about basics that play an important role in getting self-help or help from a healthcare professional in the process of tiding over an acute medical emergency. This is not a step by step guide to managing any specific emergency but rather a handy guide in general.


One of the toughest jobs in the healthcare profession is working in the Emergency Medicine Department. Sometimes we call it as Causality. Here the men and women who work (nurses-doctors-support staff) have to handle any emergency that comes through the door, provide initial treatment and then formulate a plan. The fact is that those persons are trained to handle any emergency situations. But can you imagine a common man/woman without any medical background suffering an emergency ? I know most of us are not at all interested to imagine such a situation. Health emergencies often come out of the blue in a healthy looking individual or a pre-existing condition that directly or indirectly leading to an emergency. So if take a little care, we can handle such situations very easily.

If medical emergency occurs at home

You should have a health record (sounds simple but many of us do not have it) for every family member that you can take it to the hospital in case of an emergency. Record your basic details, contacts, blood group, allergies, medications that are taken regularly, surgeries performed etc. Apart from the regular supply of tablets for fever, cough and cold, it's useful to have a small home kit that includes

  • Sterile cotton
  • Sterile band-aids
  • an antiseptic lotion (savlon or dettol)
  • a bandage roll (4 inches wide)
  • a small roll of plaster
  • an antiseptic ointment (if you have allergies- please check)

In the case of Asthma or Heart diseases

Many people who suffer from Asthma or Heart diseases often carry their regular pills when they travel or on the move. It's often very useful to have a set of emergency medications in your bag or pocket and this came be life-saving. For example :

Asthmatic Attacks: This will worsen on exposure to pollen or dust. In such instances, there are common inhalers (bronchodilators and or steroid medications) and a spacer that proves very useful for a few minutes until you reach a hospital or able to see a doctor. Please check with your regular physician or doctor and it's worthwhile to keep it with you so that you can access it when you need it.

Chest Pain: We hear many reports of people suddenly dropping down with a heart attack and need urgent care - some survive, some sadly lose their lives. If someone has a background of coronary artery disease or have a less than normal heart function, there are certain tablets (blood thinners, medications which improve blood supply to the heart) that can be taken while the person is waiting to be transported to the nearest hospital. Please check with your family doctor or a cardiologist who can prescribe you these emergency medications after a check-up.

Facing a Medical emergency

Emergencies by definition do not have a set pattern but when it occurs life gets disturbed suddenly for a few hours- few months based on the nature of the medical emergency.

Some tips that are useful include

  1. Do not ignore new symptoms or worsening of old symptoms ( a persistent cough, struggling to breathe when walking uphill or climbing the stairs)
  2. If you have an illness and your regular medicines are not helping you, then you need to get assistance soon or else often the health deteriorates and leads to other complications
  3. Avoid taking an extra dose of your regular medicines hoping that you'll get better (unless authorized by your doctor)
  4. Do not ignore your illness or symptoms for the fear of disturbing your family, your friends or your neighbors (your well-being may be at risk)
  5. While you are trying out home remedies or suggestions from relatives and friends, please call for help. Call the emergency lines or get people around you to arrange for transport or a consultation with a doctor nearby because once you call for help it takes time to reach you (practical problems of traffic, availability of ambulances, need to make additional plans etc)
  6. While you are waiting for things to happen to get the list of your medications and your health record
  7. Don't panic to sourcing and carry a lot of money. It is the responsibility of every health care provider to provide life-saving care to anyone in need within the limits of the resources available in that particular hospital. Your friends or family can arrange it later on

In the hospital or Medical center

The healthcare team in the emergency department or acute care clinic do their best to address your illness and suggest investigations that help to treat you or reassure you that things are fine. For instance, chest pain could be a heart attack or a panic attack or a acidity related or sometimes because of a gallbladder disease. All these need tests to prove or disprove, doctors are not magicians who can tell the exact cause just be seeing you or holding your hand. Please try to get the basic care. If you have any doubts ask your family or friends to speak to the doctors and if you are still not happy then you can think about seeing another doctor.


Medical emergencies are difficult times for the sufferer, immediate family and the treating doctors. All of us will have things to learn while dealing such emergencies. Lastly, if you have a health insurance policy, it's always advisable to notify the concerned authorities about the current emergency treated so that it helps you in the future insurance claims later on.

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Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao23 Nov 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 5

An article of useful information. There are many instances where people have to rush to the hospitals for medical emergencies. In this article, the author has given some important points to be followed for different ailments. These days doctors are available in almost all areas of towns and cities. But the villages don't have many doctors. For them, it is really a herculean task to take care of emergencies. In a family, we all know each other's problems and we should keep a few emergency medicines in our first aid box which will be used by our family members. We all should be aware of the first aid what we can do to the other members in case of emergency. Another point which we all should remember is that the mobile number of our family doctor should be available with us in our phone so that we need not search for his phone number and we can contact him immediately. The author has narrated the information in a very useful way.

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