House Calls is published monthly. Today's article was written by Peggy Castro, case management assistant at Sutter Coast Hospital.

Have you ever thought about who you would want contacted, or how an emergency worker would know how to contact those individuals if you had a medical emergency?

It's important to carry a list of every medication you take, including over-the-counter vitamins and drug allergies, as well as a list of emergency contacts and how to reach them. It sounds so simple, but can be complicated by circumstances out of your control.

Communications to rescue and emergency workers can sometimes be hindered due to unexpected medical conditions. These conditions may make it impossible for you to speak or write.

Having a list of contacts in your wallet, car or on your cell phone, as well as a list of any known medical conditions, becomes vital in helping emergency workers provide the correct and appropriate care to you.

This information allows your rescue and emergency health-care team to make correct diagnoses and treatments for your possible illness, as well as being able to contact those loved ones who might be looking for you.

One of the most frustrating events an emergency care worker faces is not being able to help a patient or, in those cases where a patient is coming to the end of life, not being able to get a hold of the loved ones of the patient.

You might think this doesn't happen, but it does, and it deeply affects those who are trying to assist with the patient's care.

In those instances where family and friends of a patient cannot be located or contacted, it is the health-care worker who is holding the hand of the patient as he or she slips from this world into the next.

Yes, they cry, not so much at losing the patient, although that does happen, but more from the fact that the patient didn't have family and friends nearby at that last moment of life.

Please do yourself and your health-care team a favor; carry a list of all medications, medical conditions and emergency contact information (names and how to contact them) with you at all times.