Hospital care that helps others can, unfortunately, do great harm to people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS). Special precautions must be taken when treating chemically sensitive patients in order to prevent severe reactions and facilitate healing. Well-ventilated facilities with fragrance-free, smoke-free personnel using least-toxic materials, procedures, and cleaning products can help people with MCS avoid severe reactions when seeking medical care.
Emergency care is a serious problem: during a crisis, people with MCS may not communicate effectively, and emergency personnel may be unaware that routine practices can be harmful, even life threatening. Exhaust from idling emergency vehicles, scented products on emergency personnel, and new plastic tubing, for example, may cause severe reactions. In some cases, people with MCS who have complained of odors undetectable to the emergency crew have been mistakenly confined in psychiatric facilities.
To Prepare for a Medical Emergency or Hospital Stay in Advance
Wear a medic alert bracelet.
Have your doctor complete the “MCS Accommodation Letter” (below), and have it with you, in your wallet, with your insurance ID card.
Locate an “advocate”, someone who can enter the hospital, understands your specific sensitivities, and agrees to be there in an emergency or hospital stay. If necessary this person can speak for you – Give them the medical power of attorney (below).
If you are going into the hospital for a planned procedure you can make more preparations in advance, including: Finding out which hospitals in your area are most familiar and accommodating for those with MCS. Discussing your needs with the hospital and arranging for a private room and to bring those things for yourself that you will need. Preparing a kit of the personal things you want to have while there. Determining what anesthetic, sutures and other materials you can use and arranging to have them available.
Materials available to help with this:
“First Do No Harm” and other articles by Ann Mc Campbell, MD
“Hospitalization for the Chemically Sensitive Patient” by Selena Anema, RN
“Tips for Anesthetics and Hospitalization for People with MCS” by Susan Beck, on the Immune Web site.
Use of the MCS Accommodation Letter
Suggestions Regarding the
MCS Accommodations Letter from HEAL of
To the MCS sufferer:
The MCS Awareness Letter was written primarily for use in outpatient and even non-medical situations.
It is designed to be copied onto your physician’s stationery. Feel free to adapt the format to whatever
the letterhead requires. You may also wish to modify the content if your MCS requirements are
different from those listed. Some suggestion things to consider including n the modifications are listed below; in addition see Guidlelines from Ann Mc Campbell, MD
Although the doctor’s letterhead lends more credibility, it isn’t absolutely essential. The doctor’s dated
signature gives the document the power of Doctor’s Orders, and most people recognize and honor the
importance of a physician’s instructions.
For Best Results:
The best results are usually obtained by making a telephone call in advance. Explain briefly that you
have a disability that will require advance planning, and find out to whom the doctor’s instructions
should be addressed. Then send the letter (a fax machine is ideal for this). Once it has reached its
destination, call the addressee to schedule an appointment. Most people are gracious and helpful with
Prepare for the Unexpected:
For your safety and convenience, make several copies of the original signed letter from your physician
and send copies to the service providers as needed. Keep the original, along with one or two copies, in
your home flies in a packet of health-related information for emergencies. Keep a similar packet in your
car in case of accident or emergency, and also carry a copy of the physician’s statement in your purse or
wallet. You’ll find it useful for requesting accommodations in a variety of situations.
Along with the MCS Accommodations Letter, your health information packet could include:
• a fairly current list of drugs, nutritional supplements and herbs you take regularly
• lists of drug and chemical intolerances, and a list of drugs you know you can tolerate. It would be
helpful to list them under headings “extremely reactive, moderately reactive, tolerated.”
• more extensive written protocols for situations such as emergency transport, hospitalization,
If this seems like an overwhelming project, just start with the MCS Accommodations Letter and add
the other items when you’re able.
Be aware that health care workers are more overworked, understaffed, and under-appreciated than at
any time in recent history. Our special needs require extra time and mental energy, and may reduce the
amount of time and attention available for other deserving patients. Be assertive, but use good manners
to the best of your ability. If you receive good service, make an effort to send a simple thank-you note.
You will become memorable as a positive influence in spite of your limitations, and you will smooth the
path for fellow El’s to receive good care in the future.
The MCS Accommodations Letter and these accompanying suggestions
were prepared by a HEAL member who has a clinical background in a/lied health. March 2002.
HEAL of southern Arizona also has a “Hospital Packet” which includes a copy the Hospital Accommodation Letter and its Suggested Uses, the Medical Power of Attorney form, a copy of the three resources referred to above and additional information such as a copy of “Going to the Hospital”, an article from the Spring 2002 Human Ecologist Magazine.
To order the packet contact Heal of Southern Arizona
Copyright 2001-2010, HEAL of