Prepare for a Personal Medical Emergency with a Travel Medical Portfolio

27 January 2012
Prepare for a Personal Medical Emergency with a Travel Medical Portfolio
travel medical portfolio

Many well-prepared travelers miss this step, but as anyone who has experienced a travel medical emergency can tell you, things can get out of control very quickly if you:

  • are in an accident and can’t speak for yourself
  • lose or have vital medications stolen from you
  • have a pre-existing medical condition (even one well-controlled with medication)
  • have a previously undiagnosed health problem that emerges on your trip

Even very healthy travelers encounter medical issues and accidents and giving your emergency responders as much information as possible in an easy format could prove crucial to your survival.

You’re already prepared for a medical emergency back home

At home, you’ve got a professional and personal support team. Your regular doctor is just a phone call away. Your friends and/or family are there to drive you to the hospital. Your business associates will call for medical assistance. In short, you’ve got people watching your back, but the average traveler who encounters a serious emergency may or may not have someone to watch their back – especially if that someone is also stricken with illness or involved in the accident.

What goes in your travel medical portfolio

It’s really not as difficult or time-consuming as you might imagine. A travel medical portfolio consists of”

  1. a medical bio, or biography
  2. a medical contact sheet

Your travel medical contact sheet should contain:

  1. A list of family members, friends, and/or business associates who should be contacted in an emergency. Consider designating a single person as the point of contact as that person may then assume the duties of letting everyone else know and gathering medical or legal documents. That single point of contact must be readily available, however, so choose carefully and include all their contact info: home number, cell number, e-mail, etc.
  2. A list of your medical care providers, including their titles, phone numbers, address and their role in your medical care.
  3. If the company you work for has a person in charge of managing the health care, put their contact information in there too. Those folks are often more accessible and can expedite your care while helping others work directly with your insurance provider’s customer service.

Your travel medical bio should contain:

  1. A copy of your itinerary
  2. A copy of your health insurance card and relevant phone numbers
  3. A list of current medical conditions
  4. The bare minimum of medical history: your date of birth, allergies, recent surgeries, blood type, medical devices, current prescriptions – all of these are direct factors in your immediate treatment.
  5. A list of your immunizations and the dates they were received

If you are, or suspect you may be, pregnant put that at the top of the information sheet as this is very important information for your medical care providers to know.

If you’re unconscious or unable to speak for yourself, your travel medical portfolio is even more important

As always, leave a copy with your point of contact or with your assistant just in case you’re in an emergency and you cannot show your caregivers your travel medical portfolio. Store an “In case of emergency” or “ICE” contact in your phone and be sure that person knows your medical history or can get their hands on it quickly.

Also, travel with your medical portfolio. Store it with your other important travel documents, such as your passport.

Related topics

Finding Medical Care on the road and in a hurry – this article describes a very popular (and free) service that helps travelers, including providing a pamphlet that your doctor can fill out with your medical history.

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