Dr. Lee Hieb is an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in spinal surgery. She is past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a free market medical organization.More ↓Less ↑
Recently I gave a presentation to a local tea party on “surviving a medical meltdown” – the topic of an upcoming book. Although much is said about a probable economic crisis looming, little is said about the medical shutdown that will be part of any monetary system collapse. Additionally, given the stresses of the FDA, OSHA, Medicare and Obamacare – and the legal environment enveloping them all – the medical “system” has the potential to shut down independently of any general economic problem.
For those of you not in the medical field and not related to a doctor or a nurse, a sudden and unexpected lack of medical services may be devastating. Over the next few weeks I will outline my thoughts on preparing yourself and your family for such an eventuality.
There are several key points we will consider. First and foremost, the people who will do the best in such a situation are those needing the least amount of medical care. So the primary consideration will be how we become or stay as healthy as possible. I will discuss principles of real wellness and prevention – not those generally spouted by the government or the average physician produced by conventional medical education.
The next thing will be how to “be your own corpsman.” As a physician in the U.S. Navy, I became aware of the problems of delivery of medical care to a population of active duty sailors and Marines who may be far afield of any conventional clinic or hospital. These service members are cared for by Navy Corpsmen, who must stock provisions and deliver basic aid. These guys and gals do a great job often with minimal supplies, and the principles they use can be adapted to some degree to civilian home readiness.
Although some things require high level-medical care, which will probably be available at a distance, there are many things that can be managed at home, and we will discuss things such as wound care, bites, rashes and common viral illnesses.
Finally, we will discuss how to stockpile life-sustaining medications in anticipation of supply disruption.
As part of any long-term infrastructure shutdown, everyone needs a family plan. Between now and my next column consider how you will meet up in the absence of communication, a place for medication storage that is dry, dark and not susceptible to extremes of heat or cold. Consider space for other medical supplies.
Make or update a list (for carrying in a wallet or purse) of medications for each family member, as well as a simple list of your medical problems including real drug allergies. It is unhelpful to emergency medical personnel to have an overly complicated medical history form. Keep it limited to ongoing medical problems. Don’t put down every stubbed toe or minor surgery. Make sure the “allergies” you list are really allergies. For example, becoming nauseated after taking a narcotic is not an allergic response. Listing nausea as an allergy may limit you from being given potentially life-saving medication. If you were told as a child you had an allergy to penicillin, but you have no memory of any significant reaction, try to question a surviving parent. If none are available, record that as “possible allergy by childhood history.”