Many of us go to the doctor, fill out forms, answer questions, pay the copay and then leave without a second thought. But when an event occurs such as a car accident or other injury and we need our medical records, that lack of planning can lead to a lot of hassle. Here are a few tips for keeping your medical history organized.
Write a summary.
At your next doctor’s appointment, ask your doctor to help you create a medical history overview. This should include numbers like your cholesterol, weight and blood pressure, any medications, surgeries, or known allergies, as well as any pre-existing conditions. Create a new summary after each regular check-up or medical event.
Ask for your records.
Get in the habit of asking for records from your medical providers every time. Some offices will charge for printed copies of the records; be specific about which forms you want, what information you would like to have copies of and what can be included in your summary.
What kind of information should be part of your medical history record?
- Current health summary
- Current health insurance information
- Results of any wellness tests such as Pap test or colonoscopy
- Documentation of any past surgeries or procedures
- Previous insurance claims
- Childbirth (if you’re a woman)
Include all health records.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who wears glasses or contacts, you may not think of your vision tests as part of your medical history. But, vision and hearing screenings should be included in your medical history files. You may also want to include receipts for any alternative treatments you receive, such as acupuncture or massage therapy.
Save everything in one place.
Whether it’s in a notebook, folder or online, you should make a habit of saving all your health and medical files in one place. If you choose to save your medical records online, research if your doctor and insurance company offer paperless records. These will be emailed to you. Also, you should consider researching a secured site to save your records in order to protect your information.
Keep a “cheat sheet” in case of an emergency.
If you are injured in a car accident or experience some other type of injury, there is certain vital information you will need to have on-hand in addition to your ID and insurance card. It can be helpful to have this information written down and stored someplace like your wallet or the glove box of your car.
What information should you keep on your person in case of an emergency?
- Your primary care physician’s contact information
- Emergency contact information
- Any known allergies
- Any pre-existing conditions first responders should be aware of
These are just a few tips to help you prepare and organize your medical history record. Hopefully you will never need to use the record, but if you experience an injury or other medical event, you can have peace of mind knowing you are well-prepared.