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You should speak with your physician about how to respond if your doctor is out of town and you experience an emergency. It’s helpful to keep a list of all of your doctors as well as all of the medications you are currently taking in case you end up needing to go to the emergency room in the middle of the night or you are traveling and must go to a hospital where your regular medical team is not available. Keeping this information on hand helps the physicians at the emergency room contact your medical team and will also help to make sure that you receive appropriate treatment.
Creating an Emergency Plan as a Mesothelioma Patient
People being treated for mesothelioma as well as their caregivers benefit from planning for a medical emergency. Creating appropriate medical documents as well as a kit for emergencies will help to reduce stress and better prepare you to receive an emergency kit that will reduce your stress and help you better respond if you experience a medical emergency.
Reasons to Create an Emergency Plan
The complications from mesothelioma as well as the associated treatment can result in medical emergencies. When difficulties arise, they have a tendency to do so suddenly. Being prepared in advance can help people feel ready to take the necessary actions when emergencies occur.
The initial action that you should take in creating an emergency pan is to gather all of the valuable medical details. Then, you can gather together a kit for emergencies that includes everything you might need for visits to the emergency room or to stay overnight at the hospital.
People with cancer also have to put more thought into how they might be disrupted by a natural disaster. For example, if power is down and roads are blocked, you might be curious as a cancer patient how you will access chemotherapy that you are scheduled to receive or obtain a refill of needed prescriptions. There are valuable things that people diagnosed with mesothelioma should discuss with medical providers before emergencies happen. Planning in advance is stressful but a good idea. The more that you prepare in advance, the better equipped you will be.
Questions to Ask When Creating Emergency Plan
Your emergency plan should address several key topics, which include:
- Your plan for shelter, if necessary.
- How you will evacuate.
- How you will communicate your situation to family and loved ones.
- How your pets will be kept safe.
- How you will receive emergency warnings, if necessary.
Make an Emergency Plan for Your Care
Cancer patients have weakened immune systems that make them susceptible to various medical conditions. As a result, some of the important factors to remember when creating an emergency care plan as a cancer patient include:
- Always make sure to have your insurance card on hand.
- Carry your insurance card with you.
- Know your status, the treatments you’ve received, and what medication you are taking.
- Print out details for your healthcare provider
- Speak with your medical team about how you can reach them in case of a disaster
- Write down the contact details for the National Cancer Institute Contact Center
Strategies for People Being Treated with Mesothelioma
People who have mesothelioma often have unique needs during disasters. Some mesothelioma patients have medical devices that necessitate special travel considerations. Some of the things that mesothelioma patients should do to remain ready for emergencies include:
- Create an emergency travel pack including first aid supplies, snacks, and water
- Know how to transport medical devices you might need including oxygen tanks
- Keep a set of batteries on hand to back up medical and electronic devices
Gather the Appropriate Medical Paperwork
Obtain the following documents with the information either printed or written and place them in your kit for emergencies:
- Details about your oncologist including their name, address, and phone number. The emergency team might need to speak with your oncologist to confirm details about your diagnosis as well as your treatment plan.
- Information about your specific diagnosis including the location of the cancer and the type of cancer cell involved. Including a copy of your pathology report is a good idea.
- Your current medication, your cancer treatment, and the side effects that you are experiencing. Write down the medications that you are currently taking including any medications that are prescribed as well as any over-the-counter- medications you are taking. Also write down the treatments you have received and any associated side effects.
- Clinical trial details. Emergency room physicians must know if you are involved in a clinical trial. You should write down the identification number for the clinical trial as well as whether you are receiving treatment and contact details for people overseeing your care.
- Include a list of individuals to contact in case an emergency occurs. This might include family members as well as physicians who treat you. You should include names, addresses, and contact details like email addresses and phone numbers.
- Print out copies of estate planning documents including health care proxies and living will.
By placing this information in your emergency kit which might just be a plain folder, you can make sure that you’re armed with sufficient details to answer many of the questions that an emergency room staff might ask you.
Advice If You’re on a Distant Clinical Trial
If you or a loved one is involved in a clinical trial that is located far from home, you should make sure to have a nearby oncologist on speed dial who understands the protocol, is willing and able to be on the medical team, and who is prepared to respond promptly if medical emergencies occur.
If an emergency room visit is necessary, you should make sure to have your list of emergency contacts at the trial location and protocol paperwork ready for the emergency room physician. This saves you time explaining details about your cancer or the protocol to the emergency room staff.
Adequately Communicate with Your Medical Team about Your Health
You should ask your physician for guidelines about when you should go to the emergency room. Your physician can tell you the various signs and symptoms for when you should attend an emergency room.
Any signs of emergency include having a fever greater than 101 Fahrenheit, chest pain, or difficulty with breathing. If you experience these types of symptoms, it’s a better strategy to get quickly examined than to hope that you feel better shortly.
If you participate in a clinical trial, you should ask your medical doctor for a list of significant side effects that you might experience. If you develop any substantial side effects, you should immediately go to the emergency room.
Some of the important questions that you should remember to ask your caregiver or physician include:
- What is the phone number for after-hours?
- What are the most alarming symptoms and how should you handle them?
- If your physician is not available, who should you contact?
- What is the best method of reaching family members for help?
- Do you have an emergency transportation plan?
- Are any language differences or other obstacles involved in your situation?
- Do you have devices or equipment that must be transported?
- Do you have copies of important medical paperwork?
Gathering details from your medical team help provide you with an idea about what you should include in your emergency kit. This paperwork will also help you create a set of instructions that others should follow.
Constructing a Medical Emergency Kit
Your kit need not be a requisite size. Some people decide to make a small kit only including essentials, while other people decide to create a bigger kit. Some of the most important items that you should remember to place in your kit include:
- Bring toiletries if you plan on staying overnight.
- A complete copy of your medical plan with details about your caregiver and loved ones.
- Sources of entertainment can be a good thing to bring if you plan on spending time at the hospital
- Snacks and water, in case food is not readily available at the hospital
- Spare cash or change can be helpful to have on hand.
- Medical paperwork and supplies
- Make sure to bring along device charges for electronics
Kits like this can also prove handy if you’re involved in a natural disaster. After you’ve received emergency care, you should update your medical team about what happened. This includes blood tests, imaging scans, or any new medications either given or prescribed. Dealing with a medical emergency often proves challenging. Preparing as best you can help you better respond to and process this stressful situation.
Covid-19 and Emergency Planning as a Cancer Patient
If you or someone you love with cancer has had to evacuate either your home or a care facility or if there is a storm or natural disaster, you must know your local as well as state rules connected to Covid-19. Some of the important details to follow include:
- If you live in a temporary shelter, remember regulations about social distancing and facial coverings could be different than what you are used to at home. Contact shelters in advance to know what their rules are. It’s helpful to determine if medical professionals are at the location because you can then inform them about your mesothelioma treatment.
- If you are not feeling well and must be promptly seen by a doctor, you should call ahead before you go to the closest care facility.
- Try to continue taking your medicines as scheduled. If you do not have your medicine or do not know where they are located, do your best to get in contact with your doctor, insurance carrier, or pharmacy.
- If you cannot receive your medical records, note everything you can about your treatment.
Important Estate Planning Documents for Mesothelioma patients
Even people diagnosed with mesothelioma can outlast a prognosis, mesothelioma is one of the deadliest conditions in the world. This is why people diagnosed with mesothelioma should take as many precautions as possible to make sure their responsibilities and personal finances are covered.
Many people choose to create wills, but various end-of-life documents are critical in helping loved ones deal with a mesothelioma diagnosis. Without estate planning documents, your loved ones must make difficult choices without help. Some of the estate planning documents that you might consider including in your mesothelioma diagnosis include:
- Competency letters written by medical professionals like your oncologist state that you can make decisions that are both stable and informed. These documents might end up applying to health care as well as estate and financial issues. One of the most common side effects of treatment for mesothelioma is confusion and memory loss.
- Living trusts are one of the most valuable types of estate planning documents. Trusts are established and funded during a patient’s life but can be revised as time passes. Live trusts nominate an entity to function as a “trustee” after the creator passes away. Trusts also list beneficiaries who receive the assets from a trust. A trustee is appointed to handle assets from a trust for the advantage of the associated beneficiaries.
- While they are not a type of legal document, letters of intent frequently prove advantageous for both executors and family members. Letters of intent function as end-of-life checklists for your loved ones for any wishes not covered in a will. These documents can include details about the location of end-of-life documents as well as contact information for involved parties, details for the care of pets, and other information. Letters of intent should receive high priority for people who have wishes that cannot be fully explained in other estate planning documents.
- Financial power of attorney documents appoints someone to address your financial matters. This individual has the capacity to make legal choices about the finances of a person who is disabled, not well, or physically not available. An agent should make arrangements in line with your wishes but has the ability to make decisions on their own until this power is either challenged or overruled by a court of law. Many people who were exposed to asbestos were the result of negligent employers. This is why your financial power of attorney can function and help you in pursuing legal compensation.
- If a patient cannot make medical decisions on their own, they can select to have a health care power of attorney. A person appointed to act as a health care agent should be trustworthy and capable because they will have the power to decide whether treatment is given, admit or discharge someone from a medical facility, access and share the medical records, and carry out choices about how a body or remains should be handled. Throughout the journey for mesothelioma treatment, several choices about healthcare must be made. Whether you are proceeding through treatment or remaining in an assisted living home, the health care power of attorney document can help you in making choices and maintaining helpful end-of-life paperwork.
- Living wills are helpful aspects of end-of-life plans. These documents list a patient’s choice to have medical treatment that delays death withheld following the diagnosis of a terminal illness. These documents can help medical professionals if a choice must be made about foregoing this type of medical treatment. Medical professionals view mesothelioma as a terminal condition. If you would like to receive medical procedures that delay death, you absolutely should create and finish a living will.
- People who want to have their organs donated should create health care directives describing their wishes. If you have already made arrangements, you should create an end-of-life document that lists all necessary information. If a patient has a healthcare agent, that individual can make choices with the patient’s guidance.
- Healthcare details about people are not accessible to people before or following their death. HIPAA release forms share guarded health details with other people or entities. People should finalize their HIPAA release if they’re interested in having their healthcare agent, family members, or loved ones have access to critical medical documents.
- Healthcare providers often begin CPR and health-prolonging activities if a person’s heart or breathing stops, people can select to not receive medical care in these situations. Do not resuscitate documents state that an individual selects to not undergo life-prolonging measures in case their heart or breathing stops. Many people with mesothelioma developed the illness due to their employer’s negligence. In these situations, the loved one can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the individual or entity that was negligent. This is why it’s critical to keep your family member’s end-of-life documents both secured and organized.
- The average individual is believed to have around 200 digital accounts that include insurance, bank, cryptocurrency, and investment. Some accounts must receive adequate focus after someone passes away. If these accounts are protected by a password, an individual should create a list of login details. Individuals might even appoint a digital executor who can manage their digital accounts after that individual passes away.