General Question

Jeruba's avatar

If you're taken to a hospital unconscious (and not from home), will they/can they look for ID, insurance cards, and AMD info in your belongings?

Asked by Jeruba (53091points) 1 month ago

Are emergency responders and/or ER admitting personnel expected, required, allowed to search your pockets or purse for personal information and proof of insurance?

How do emergency conditions meet privacy protections and personal property safeguards under these circumstances?

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26 Answers

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I am going to guess and say yes.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Yes. Specifically they will look for something in a purse or wallet that says “MEDICAL ALERT INFORMATION” and/or similar indications.

The docs and ambulance people are looking for things that will help them medically. Billing comes later.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

Most smartphones have a feature that let first responders pull that information out without needing to unlock it. You just have to set it up. On android if you hit “emergency call”—> “view emergency info” it will list what you need to tell them like allergies, blood type, emergency contact info etc. Do yourself a favor and set that up right now.

JLeslie's avatar

Yes. They don’t always do it as soon as you would hope, but yes they attempt to figure out who you are and call someone close to you. In Florida we have our spouse and emergency contacts listed with the state through the motor vehicle department. We can update it at any time.

@elbanditoroso I have asked countless doctors (I think our jelly doctor too) and they say they don’t look at your phone for medical information. I keep hoping ER doctors do, but I’m not so sure. My medical information is very complete in my phone, accessible without a passcode, but not sure if it will do me any good.

si3tech's avatar

@Jeruba I believe so.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I was first medic on our ambulance service decades ago. If you were unconscious we were allowed to work on you using the term “implied consent.” We would do a quick look for a medic alert bracelet and then stabilize you as quickly as possible and load you into the ambulance. On the way to the hospital we’d try to get identifying information so we could radio the ER before we arrived so they would be ready.
“This is Spencerport 2949 to Park Ridge. We are coming in with a 65 year old female involved in an MVA. She is unconscious, BP is xxx/yy, etc. Our ETA is 8 minutes.”

Jeruba's avatar

@LuckyGuy, thanks for the specifics. So if I had not only ID but also an AMD in my purse, they would probably find it?

Would there be any reason to expect things to go missing? Is there any protection against that?

gorillapaws's avatar

Yes. There’s an implied consent with medical emergencies if the victim is unconscious.

gondwanalon's avatar

Also if my cell phone is present with my unconscious body emergency personnel can have instant access important information about me (just by touching “Emergency” on the cell phone screen) including health conditions, medications, wife, allergies, blood type, hight, weight and primary language. Insurance isn’t an important issue while in the process of saying a life.

I was told that emergency responders are trained to check out the cell phone for emergency information.

Jeruba's avatar

Hmm, very different answers from @JLeslie an @gondwanalon on the cellphone information. Has this changed over time, or does it vary across regions and systems?

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Jeruba Every situation is different. From my personal experience, I did not look in the purse until we had the victim stabilized. We were supposed to have someone else on the crew with us when we went through the victim’s belongings. But, the truth is, there is so much going on and everyone is crazy busy working on much more important things. We did what needed to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible. If there is only a 2 person crew I am not going to ask the driver to pull over so I can get patient info while I am on the radio to the ER.
If you have a medic alert bracelet that states we should look in the purse we would do that – if we can even find the purse in the car wreck or whatever. Imagine it is dark, there is a strong odor of gasoline, something is steaming somewhere. We just want to get you (and us) the hell out of there!
I have heard that now virtually everything is being recorded for documentation and training. That was not the case in my day.
Frankly, if you trust us a medic with your life you can trust them to hold your purse. ;-)

JLeslie's avatar

Is the AMD valid in other states? Is it a federal level thing?

Maybe message @caravanfan and ask him about doctors checking the medical information in the phone thing. It might have changed over the years as you pointed out. I asked here years ago. It might very well vary by region or by who is in charge of the medical system in a location.

Regarding contacts in the phone, that’s the thing, my sister and husband’s phone number are on the medical app as emergency contacts, so they both are visible without a password.

In my contacts, my husband is listed as Husband Firstname Lastname, and my sister is Sister Firstname Lastname and both are in my favorites. So, even if they get access to my contact list from unlocking my phone, they can see the relation.

I typed out all of the medical information that I had stored in my phone and gave copies to my husband, a friend, and my sister. I have never seen a doctor’s chart that is 100% accurate about me and my medications and needs. I figure if I’m in the hospital unable to speak there is a good chance things will fall through the cracks. @LuckyGuy is really making me think I might want a medical bracelet. I’ve thought about it for years.

jca2's avatar

I haven’t read the previous answers, so it may have been answered already, but I asked a friend who was an ICU triage nurse (RN) and she told me that they would look in your pockets for ID, and if you were unconscious and you didn’t have ID, they’d work on you as a John Doe or Jane Doe. They’d ask the cops or the ambulence driver for help (to find out from anybody at the scene if it was an auto accident, or at the person’s house or where ever they were). If the person was found in the street, unconsious, and there was nobody to ask, the cops would investigate. She said it never went that far when she was a nurse (decades in a local hospital ER) but that’s what would happen if it did.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 Does the ER staff bother checking the medical information and emergency contacts stored on the phone if the phone is available?

jca2's avatar

@JLeslie I would think most phones have lock codes on them.

JLeslie's avatar

@ALL The medical alert is typically not locked. It’s on your passcode screen on the bottom left, on iPhone it says “emergency.” If your phone is set to read your face, block the camera so you get the passcode screen.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Maybe I’m a little cuckoo on this, but I have problems with putting all this health information on my phone – not password controlled – for anyone to find.

Wherever my phone is, my wallet is nearby. My wallet has my Medicare card, my red cross card, my insurance cards, etc. They’re all paper.

I’m uneasy with putting that out on my phone where my medical history and all sorts of other highly personal information could be sucked up by a malevolent app.

JLeslie's avatar

@elbanditoroso What you wrote makes sense to me, is reasonable, and big brother is real.

In my phone I have chosen to write out a couple of full sentences that have some very important information, besides just entering basic info like medication, allergies, etc. Like I said I have NEVER seen a doctor’s chart that fully captures my medication correctly, or the minor things that could avoid causing me a lot of pain.

Plus, women often only have their phone and a few cards if they don’t want to carry a purse and they don’t have pockets. It might not be their medical card.

My main point is, some of us do have our important medical information and emergency contacts in our phone, why aren’t medical personal checking that? Assuming they aren’t. If someone choose to use it they can put only the data they want. For example: only their emergency contact, only that they are diabetic, or only their doctor’s name and number.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I would hope so!

Blackwater_Park's avatar

@elbanditoroso You don’t think your phone knows when you go take a dump? I’m pretty sure it does. You get to decide what goes in there so that’s actually of least concern in my mind.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Blackwater_Park I am one of those very few people who keeps a bare minimum of apps on my phone and I do not carry it with me 24/7 like a lot of people. So to answer your question – no, my phone isn’t sending out as much private info as a lot of other peoples’ phones are.

smudges's avatar

@Jeruba My brother drove himself to a (smallish) hospital with extreme head pain. He crashed into a pole in the parking lot and a security guy saw him and got people out there. In the ER, they determined that he didn’t know who he was, but they found info leading to our sister, who they called, and she told them the number for his house, where his children (8 & 10) were alone. Family was able to get to him at the hospital. He had emergency surgery for swelling of the brain caused by meningitis. So yes, it’s highly likely that someone will find out who you are, and they do look through your things for ID. They want your medical records as much as you want them to have them; they don’t want to make mistakes.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

What is an AMD? I had to google it.

Advance healthcare directive

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

After I donated a kidney, I bought a dog tag saying, “Left kidney is gone, if dead you are welcome to everything else.” After a few years the donation became less important to my identity and I stopped wearing the tag.

Every year or so I consider getting a bracelet/whatever to alert first responders to my medical issues and contact info. After looking at the options I lose interest.

Jeruba's avatar

@Call_Me_Jay, sorry. Advance medical directive. Everything from who decides, if I’m unable, to what to do with the body. Everyone over the age of 18 ought to have one, if only to spare your family from having to decide under duress what’s in your best interest.

JLeslie's avatar

Personnel not personal. I just noticed my typo.

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