MyDirectives

Apr 30 2020

In preparing for COVID-19, doctor suggests creating a bag for hospital

For Dr. Dan Morhaim, the COVID-19 pandemic raises a new issue: having a bag ready to go to the hospital.

Morhaim is a former emergency department physician and Maryland delegate from Baltimore County. He wrote to Gov. Larry Hogan in early April urging the governor to include the idea of a hospital go bag in his message.

A go bag is a good idea in general, Morhaim said. The go bag contains a list of current medications and medical conditions, copies of recent labs and imaging and an advance care plan, which includes an advance directive.

Getting documents, such as recent imaging reports, should be easy, Morhaim said. If a person does not already have copies, they can call their doctor to get copies.

“By the way, this is nothing new here. People are entitled to have and I tell everybody to get a copy of your relevant medical records,” Morhaim said.

The go bags help doctors, nurses and other staff in the emergency departments, he said. They do not know the patient’s history so the go bag gives them an idea of a patient’s baseline.

And in medicine, a baseline is important, Morhaim said. Knowing a person’s current medications also helps doctor to know if anything they prescribe could have an adverse effect.

The most important document, Morhaim said, is the advance directive, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic when people may not be able to speak due to labored breathing. Patients with COVID-19 also cannot have visitors, so there is no family to consult, he said.

The advance directive helps doctors determine what a patient wants. Do they have a do not intubate order? A do not resuscitate? It can also determine who the doctor may call about the patient.

“Only about 30 percent of people have a completed advanced directive, and it’s my opinion that everybody, and there’s facts for [that], everybody over the age of 18 should complete one as a responsible adult, and we can change them any time,” he said.

It’s a living document that can be changed as people get older and their decisions change, Morhaim said.

There are multiple places to do an advance directive, including mydirectives.com or through the AARP.


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