As a physical therapist, I have been compiling medical charts for some 26 years now. Everything I need to know about my patients—the tests they’ve undergone, the treatment they’ve received, their dates of care—have all been gathered in an organized way, so that I can retrieve vital information easily.
Long ago, I reasoned, this would be a useful practice to follow in my own life, as well as for each of my immediate family members. Once I realized the benefits of personal health records at my fingertips, I began instructing all of my patients and friends to consider doing the same. Today, I am suggesting that you, my reader-friends, pick up the practice as well.
First, collect any reports you may have at home scattered about (eye exams, names of prescription medication, blood work results, X-ray, MRI, colonoscopy, or mammogram reports, pap smears, surgery dates/reports…).
Next, call your doctor’s offices and ask them to send you copies of whatever tests you recall having done, but do not have a record of.
Going forward, always ask for a copy of your blood tests, surgical reports, etc. to add to your personal health file.
Compiling a Useful Chart
Place two index cards on the inside left cover of a file folder. On one write the names of all your medical/dental providers and their phone numbers. In PENCIL, document the date of your last visit with each. (This way you can know when it is time to schedule your next checkup.) When you are seen again, erase and update this section. Use the second card to record medications you take and dates taken, noting any allergies or reactions to prior medications.
Gather all medical papers and arrange them chronologically. If you want to be extremely organized (or if you have a large number of medical issues), you can use a multi-sectioned file folder and earmark each section for a specific health practitioner.
A Good Chart Can Substitute for a Foggy Memory
The next time you begin treatment with a new doctor, therapist, dentist, etc., you can bring your chart along as a thorough reference source. You and your practitioner will be thankful for the clarity!