Keeping up with medical records can be a chore. No one wants to spend a lot of time going through these papers and pieces of information. But accurate medical information can literally be a life and death matter. So keeping up with these for our family has to be a priority. Plus, who wants to have to look up all that information every time you see a new doctor or need to fill out a form for school? Here is a quick and easy way to keep medial information organized:
TIP: As medical related paperwork makes its way into your house, file it immediately as a medical record or a tax document. (In some cases you can deduct all or a portion of your medical expenses. Consult your tax professional or the IRS code for details.) Staying on top of filing this paperwork will reduce the stress related to finding it and having the right information accessible for the right people.
Head to your computer. Any copies of x-rays, medical findings or significant diagnoses can be scanned into your computer, eliminating a lot of paperwork. Also, many places, especially imaging (x-rays, MRI) and specialists will put relevant medical information onto CD for you. Now you have important papers and records that you can access via your computer, making them easier to share with doctors and other places that need the information. Increasingly doctors are making email and web-based tools available to patients for us to add medical records and get appropriate information to and from them, so keeping things electronically will just make that process easier for you.
While you are on the computer, set up a file for each member of the family that will contact a summary of their medical history. This should include all allergies (specifically drug allergies), surgical history, current medications, specific diagnoses that are for chronic (long-term) or recent conditions. Also include current symptoms. We use this Medical Information Template. This way, when you visit the doctor, whether new or old, you can print this form and take it with you. When the PA, nurse, or doctor ask a question, refer them to the form. Doctors and their office staff love patients who come prepared with this information. I can’t tell you how many times I have had doctors thank me or ask me if I could give them a blank copy to put on their website so patients can easily provide summary information. It will make your visit more efficient and more productive, as well as more pleasant in all likelihood.
TIP: When meeting a new doctor for the first time, be sure you know their first and last name. When a doctor comes into the room and calls you by your first name, but introduces himself as “Dr. So-and-So” you are armed and can respond back with “Hello, George, I’m Mrs. Smith.” This helps set the tone for a professional relationship where you, as the patient, are respected and not belittled. Plus it often gets a good laugh. I don’t care if a doctor calls me by my first name, but if they expect me to use formal titles, they should extend the respect to me too.