When you start using a medical alert system, the provider will ask you to list one or more emergency contacts. Society has trained us to list next of kin or a close friend as the best choice for an emergency contact because of our close emotional connections to them. Upon examination, though, are they truly the right people to contact in life and death situations? This article intends to provide alternatives and perhaps more appropriate options for you to consider when you make this important decision to which we give little thought and often make quickly on the spot.

Primary Care Physician   Besides yourself, the doctor you interact with on a constant basis probably knows the most about your particular medical condition. In most cases, he or she is intimately familiar with the medications you're taking, your allergies and any other particularities that emergency personnel should know when they are called to respond to your call for help. Furthermore, your doctor can best advise you regarding whether your situation requires immediate hospitalization.

Insurance Representative   Unless you pay cash for all your medical services, it's a near certainty that there a third party administers your health care. In many cases, insurance providers will assign a particular agent to your policy. If you have such a personal agent, he or she should be familiar with which hospitals and clinics are best equipped to handle your particular needs   not to mention that they ought to know with certainty which medical establishments are covered by your insurance policy.

Attorney   This may seem like a crass suggestion, but if you have an attorney on retainer, it may be a good option for your legal representative to be one of the first people contacted in the case of a medical emergency. This is especially true if you are disabled from a past incident that occurred because of the actions of another individual or corporation. In this case, your attorney is most likely one of the better-informed individuals concerning your condition and how best to proceed.

Health Care Proxy   This person has the legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself. The circumstances of when and who makes these decisions is a process you should start well before you push the emergency button on your medical alert system. All responsible adults should have one; this eliminates ambiguity in the hospital in the unthinkable circumstance that you are put into a coma or otherwise disabled from your injuries. Your health care proxy should be made immediately aware of any emergency when it happens.

Minister   This is another option that may seem in poor taste but is worth considering. If you are close to death and the hereafter is a matter that concerns you, your personal minister or other spiritual confidant may be a perfectly appropriate choice for an emergency contact. This is especially true if your religious beliefs prohibit certain types of medical procedures such as blood transfusions, or if there are certain last rites or sacraments you want administered before you die.

Your loved ones will all be informed of any medical emergency in due course. In fact, all of the suggestions listed above have emergency contact lists of their own. Before a moment of crisis, it is best to consider all your options and choose emergency contacts who will be best able to help you through a crisis. That person or persons may or may not be your spouse or family member.

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