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Take Control of Your Medical Records

written by Guest Blogger August 29, 2012

Can I ever relate to today’s guest blog post by Felicia Baratz! I’ve been dealing with a health issue for a few years now and keep getting referred to other docs. They always nod in understanding when I tell them `I think this happened at this time…’ This article will help me finally take control!   

Every time you start a relationship with a new health professional, you have to fill out a detailed health history form. Over the years, as you add medical procedures to that history, the details of office visits and procedures may become a bit jumbled in your mind. Keeping your own health records and medical history can help you avoid the dangers that come from forgetting important medical events as you report in with a new doctor.

How to get documentation

The first step in keeping your own medical records is to get your hands on the documentation. Most doctor’s offices are not going to simply offer it to you, but they are more than willing to give it to you if you ask.

When you have lab work done, ask the receptionist to mail or email you a copy of the results. Ask to keep all X-rays or other imaging you have done. If you have an official diagnosis of an illness or condition, have your doctor write a diagnostic form for your records. In most instances, all you have to do is ask.

Keep the right documents

Not all trips to the doctor need to be documented. Keeping the right information will help cut down on the amount of data you need to manage. Things you should have a record of include:

  • Name, birthday and blood type
  • Allergies
  • Test results, including annual wellness visits
  • Details about your family medical history
  • List of current medications
  • Vaccination details
  • Surgeries
  • Hospital stays
  • Major illnesses

This information will give you a fairly thorough medical history to have on record.

How to store your information

After you have gathered your important documents, you need a logical way to store the information. First, find a home for any paper copies. Rather than using a big storage bin that you toss everything into, use an accordion file or file box with folders for the various categories of papers that you have. Keep in mind that the more organized your system, the less time-consuming retrieving a document will be.

Storing your information electronically is also a good idea. Doing so will allow you access to your records when it’s inconvenient to carry around or dig through a file looking for information. Once you have the hard copies, create a digital file by scanning the paperwork and save the files to your computer. If you need to access your information from different computers or devices, consider using an online storage system like Dropbox. Remote access gives you the freedom to easily access your information, no matter where you are.

Doctors can only make informed decisions about your healthcare if they have all of the details about your past medical events. As you add to your medical history, you may not want to rely on your memory to keep things straight, especially when your well-being is at stake. Take charge of your medical records with hard copies and a workable storage solution that ensures you have access to the documents when you need them.

About the Author

Felicia Baratz is a writer living in the Indianapolis area. As a writer for doseofmyown.com, she specializes in articles about health and nutrition.

Do you have any tips in how to take control of your health history? Just a few months ago I was in a dollar store up here in Canada and saw they sell journals for your own health history as well as other family members. Thanks to Felicia’s article, I’ve decided to pick me up one of them!

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