Keep Track of Your Medical Records

Do you carry your health records in your head? I used to. I’d start up with a new doctor and have to wrack my brain trying to fill out the initial paperwork. What year did I have my sinus surgery? Which relatives have what diseases? When did I start taking all my different meds, and what are the dosages?

It will make things much easier if you keep track of your health records and medical history. I’m not an organized person unless I work really hard at it. So I’ve found three quick and easy methods for organizing your health info.

  1. Put it all in a box. Quick and easy. You’ll have to do some searching to find the particular thing you need at a particular moment, but you’ll always know where all the health stuff is.
  2. Organize it into folders/binders/envelopes. You’ll spend a little more time getting set up, but less time searching in the long run.
  3. Go online. Many insurance providers offer online tools for recording, organizing, and tracking medical history.

So what information do you want to save? Here are a few things that will be important:

  • Family history.
  • Major illnesses, surgeries, and hospital stays.
  • Vaccination dates.
  • Current medication list.
  • Any known allergies, especially to things that may be used in an emergency situation.
  • Copies of test results, especially mammograms and pap smears, EKG tests, and prostate specific antigen tests.

Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to help fill in any gaps in your history collection — you have a right to copies of all of your health records.

One last thing to do with all this information: create a portable health record. Type up important basics like emergency contact information, health insurance information, your regular doctor’s name and phone number, a current list of medications, and any allergies. Size it to fit on a business card and keep it in your wallet. Put another copy on your refrigerator — many EMTs are trained to check the fridge door for info in case of an emergency in the home.