Immunizations. Physicals. Cholesterol levels. Medications. Keeping track of your medical information these days, takes the juggling skills of an office manager. In fact, my home office is exactly where I keep all my health and medical records, with help from file folders, notebooks and a giant filing cabinet.
Just the other day, the school nurse wanted to know if my daughter Annie has been vaccinated for varicella (the virus that causes chicken pox) and TDaP, the vaccine that covers tetanus, diptheria and pertussis. Lo and behold, there was a gap in my files, and I had to contact my pediatrician to get the records. Then Samantha’s school nurse wanted our pediatrician to fill out forms for a physical, which will allow her to run cross-country next fall. Those forms get sent to the school nurse. So there I was again, asking the pediatrician’s assistant to fill out those forms. The amount of information going back and forth can be mind boggling.
Having medical information at your fingertips is essential these days. And because many people see multiple doctors, there’s a good chance that your records are scattered among several care providers. Add in the fact that insurance plans change, and people move (doctors and patients alike), and you know why it’s up to you keep your own records. Among the essentials you should have in your files:
- Prescription medicines you’re currently taking, including dosage information.
- Known reactions to medications or allergies.
- Test results and immunization records.
- Dates, diagnosis and treatment of any illnesses or conditions you’ve had.
- Over-the-counter medicines and vitamins you regularly take.
- Names and phone numbers of your doctor(s) and insurance company.
- Recent medical procedures you’ve had.
Some people use a personal health record or PHR provided by their insurance company, employer or healthcare provider, which may be done electronically. If you choose to put information online, make sure it’s private, but that you can have easy access to it. Me? I am still doing it the old-fashioned way for now, with paper and pen.