Managing Your Family's Health Records

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When you're busy taking care of the day-to-day needs of your household, keeping track of papers and records is the farthest thing from your mind--managing your family's health records most specially. Everybody's healthy and well after all, so why should you bother organizing all those bits and pieces of paper? But then again, you'll never know exactly when illness will strike. And it wouldn't do well to go looking for documents and records while you're already sick with worry.

Managing your family's health records is important because...

... It allows you to keep track of every allergy, appointment, immunization, medical procedure, and test that every family member has or has taken.

... It may lead to early detection of an inherited, genetic, or chronic illness.

... It reduces the risk of medication errors and medical mistakes.

... It saves you the hassle of looking for important medical papers and records when they are needed.

... It makes your family active participants in health care.

... It means getting the best medical care for a loved one.

How do you start managing your family's health records?

#1 Here's a list of the information you need to keep on hand for each family member:

  • Family's health history including significant and inheritable illnesses
  • Personal health history including past and current conditions and how they were or are being managed. This should include a list of allergies and medications as well.
  • Doctor visit and hospital discharge summaries
  • Childhood and adult immunizations
  • Test results such as blood work, bone density scans, electrocardiogram tests, mammogram and prostrate screenings, MRIs, urine tests, and X-rays
  • For mom, a history of childbirth including number of kids as well as any miscarriages and Cesarian sections

#2 Create your family's health care directory containing the appropriate contact and insurance information for your family doctor, pediatrician, obstetrician-gynecologist, dentist, eye doctor, nutritionist, and others.

#3 Collate all the documents. Some of these records you might already have at home, but organized in a haphazard manner, if at all. Some you might have to procure from your doctor and medical facilities you've associated with. It may take a bit of time to get all of the documents together, but stay the course.

#4 Organize your family's health records. You can approach this task in different ways. You may choose to assign a box or plastic envelope for each family member and put the records in the assigned container. Another option is to use a paper filing system, assigning a pocket for each family member. Others have chosen the digital route, and store their family's records on a secure Internet site.

#5 Last but not least, furnish each family member with vital information in case of an emergency. These include proper identification, who to call in case of an emergency, contact information of primary doctor, and health provider card.