As a direct support professional, part of your job is to ensure that the people you support are able to manage their health care needs. One of the best ways to do this is by understanding their medical histories. When you understand and make a record of someone’s medical history, you can work with the person’s health care providers to treat health conditions in the most appropriate ways.
Keeping track of and writing down their medical history can be especially important for those with developmental disabilities.
As a direct support professional, an individual’s medical history can help you to:
The information that makes up a complete medical history may come from many different sources (see box). By gathering these pieces of information in one folder, you can make sure that the medical history record is easily accessible to you, the person you support, and the person’s health care providers. You can:
As a member of someone’s planning team, it is important to consult that person’s medical history record as you are assisting with his or her Individual Program Plan (IPP). A current health history record and physician’s report should be used to identify and address the individual’s health care needs during the planning process. A completed IPP sometimes includes a healthcare plan that describes:
Many people have allergies that cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as itchy eyes, a runny nose, or a rash. While these types of allergies are irritating, they can often be managed without visiting the doctor. However, anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention. As a direct support professional, it is important for you to know how to respond
to this life-threatening condition.
Anaphylaxis is characterized by hives, swelling, difficulty breathing or swallowing, rapid heart rate, and dropping blood pressure. In severe cases, a person experiencing anaphylaxis can go into shock, and may die.
The first sign of an anaphylactic reaction may be severe itching of the eyes and face. This can rapidly progress to more serious symptoms, including hives, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, a racing heartbeat, and shock. If not treated, a person having an anaphylactic reaction can die within minutes.
Food is the most common trigger for an anaphylactic allergic reaction. Common food triggers include:
Other common triggers include:
Individuals who have any history of anaphylaxis, even if the reaction was not severe, should always carry an epinephrine injection kit that is prescribed by their doctor. If someone you support needs an epinephrine injection kit, read the individual’s healthcare plan and talk to their physician. Be aware that there may be specific licensing or other regulatory requirements regarding medications and the provision of specific medical supports depending upon the type of residential service model where you work.
Encourage people with severe allergies to wear a medical alert bracelet. This will help emergency personnel and others know what to do if a person develops anaphylaxis.
Anaphylactic reactions often become more severe with repeated exposure to the trigger. This means that someone who had a mild reaction to something in the past is likely to have a more severe reaction in the future. As a direct support professional, it is vital for you to know what triggers could lead to an allergic reaction, and to help individuals maintain an environment free from these triggers.
Last updated on June 30th, 2010