Safety: ICE on Cellphones: An Acronym for Emergencies (NYT)

A simple acronym entered into people’s cellphone listings, ICE, can help emergency room doctors who are trying to track down a patient’s family.

It stands for In Case of Emergency, and a report presented at a recent gathering of the American Conference of Emergency Physicians said doctors should encourage their patients to start using it.

“We are always faced with situations where patients come into the emergency room and for one reason or another are not able to communicate with us,” said the author of the report, Dr. Dennis McKenna of the Albany Medical Center.

Traditionally, hospital workers have searched for a wallet and then tried to find relatives through the identification inside — a slow and not always successful method.

But with cellphones so common, Dr. McKenna said, hospitals now often search through cellphone address books for clues about whom to contact. While efforts to teach people to add an emergency contact listing have begun, doctors can do more to popularize the idea, he said.