No one wants to think that they will not be able to communicate with their primary care doctors or health providers. While every effort should be made to reach your doctor should you be hospitalized, sometimes the situation just doesn’t allow for that in a timely manner. One situation might be that you may have an injury or illness that limits your ability to communicate. Another situation might be that you’re traveling in a more remote part of Mexico and need to access the local doctor who doesn’t speak English. Or your primary doctor is not available, there appears to be no doctor on call, and you have to contact another doctor. For these situations we suggest the following:
ID Card and Information: The San Miguel Medical Resource Directory has developed a guide to the information that you should have with you at all times so that you can receive the best medical care possible in any situation where you cannot communicate effectively. Consider having your information translated into Spanish as most first responders and non-English-speaking personnel will not be able to read English. The first responders, whether they be the police, Red Cross, or maybe even a member of your household staff will need information to act appropriately and efficiently so that you can receive the proper care promptly. If you are a member of a family living here or visiting, this information should be available for every member, especially children. Young children are unlikely to be carrying any form of ID, and not likely to be able to communicate their health history even if they’re fluent in Spanish. Children should be told how to locate this information in your home or on your person and how to contact the doctor and emergency services should you be unable to do so.
U.S. ID Bracelet: Many people travel to and from the U.S. and Canada from time to time. Accidents and injury could occur while you’re away. While traveling in the U.S., a medical alert ID could save several hours in receiving appropriate care for conditions that may not be immediately recognized by first responders and medical personnel. MedicAlert is a membership organization which is readily recognized in most if not all of the U.S., and provides access to a 24-hour national database. This, or a similar organization, might be of value for those of you who travel frequently to and from the U.S. and Canada. Several online companies sell a wide variety of medical ID jewelry. These can be readily found by Googling “medical alert bracelet” There is no known counterpart organization within Mexico at the time of this publication.
Electronic Medical Record: MedToGo.com and LifeSaverAlert offers a USB drive stick pre-programmed to fill out with your medical information. This is small enough to carry on a key chain and can contain your entire medical history.
Resource Material: Living in Mexico also means traveling within Mexico. Locating hospitals and medical care in a strange city can be daunting. MedToGo.com has published a book, “Mexico, Health and Safety Travel Guide”, an informative guide to medical resources in hundreds of frequently visited tourist destinations throughout Mexico. For more information and to purchase this book contact MedToGo.com. It is a valuable traveling companion and will more than pay for itself should you need medical care while you’re away from home.
On occasion your primary doctor may be unavailable. Before you need to contact your doctor,discuss with him or her who he or she recommends for your care in the event of your primary doctor’s absence. This could be part of your conversation when you are in the process of selecting your primary care physician, or if you know that your doctor is planning to be out of town for a period of time.
With thanks to Dr. Ricardo Gordillo for his editorial support.