Having important medical information on-hand can be critical to your loved one’s well-being and safety. Being able to access the right information quickly and efficiently can make doctor’s appointments easier and will allow in-home caregivers and nurses to provide better care. In the case of an emergency, having critical information readily available (such as allergies and medications) could save your loved one’s life.
Caring for a loved one comes with many responsibilities, so it’s not always easy to stay organized. Take the time to establish a system that works for you and be sure to place emergency numbers in a prominent location in the house in case you are not there.
Ways to Organize Medical Information
Medical Care Binder
Easy to put together and simple to use, you can create a medical care binder using a standard three-ring binder. Because copies of medical records are often provided in paper form, you simply need to stick the records in the binder to keep it in one place. Organize records using tab dividers to make finding information easier. A great benefit of keeping a medical care binder is that doctors and specialists will have the ability to flip through the medical records and notes to get to know your loved one’s history and information quickly and easily.
If the thought of organizing everything yourself sounds daunting, there are several options for premade medical care binders and journals that do the organizing for you:
Scanning records and saving them on a computer may serve as a nice back-up to a binder, but this method can also make finding specific records easier (with a simple naming convention). This also makes it easy to share records with clinicians via email or a patient portal. If you want to be able to access records from other devices, there are websites designed for storing health records and information. Reputable sites encrypt the data so you don’t need to worry about people accessing information without your consent.
Must-Have Medical Information
It’s absolutely critical to have the following information readily available:
- Name and Birth Date
- List of Allergies (Drug and Food)
- Details of Any Chronic Conditions
- Blood Type
- List of Medications (Including Dosages and History)
- Results from Any Recent Health Screenings or Tests
- List of Any Major Surgeries or Procedures (and Results)
- Recent Laboratory Results
- Contact Information for All Involved Clinicians
- Primary Care Provider
- Specialists (Cardiologist, Neurologist, etc.)
- Skilled Medical Therapists (Physical, Occupational, etc.)
- Any Professionals Important to Your Loved One’s Care
We recommend putting contact information for important health care providers and emergency contacts in a prominent place, such as on the fridge or in your loved one’s bedroom. If you will not be home, be sure to leave this information with anyone who will be caring for your loved one, including professional caregivers or in-home nurses.
Should-Have Medical Information
While this information isn’t needed in the moment of an emergency, you should have this information ready:
- Medical Diagnostic Reports, Radiology, and Imaging Results (EKGs, Pulmonary Function, X-Rays, MRIs, CT Scans, etc.)
- Dates of Doctor’s Visits
- Hospital Admission and Discharge Notes
- Emergency Room Clinical Notes
- Clinical Visit Notes
- Vision and Dental Information
- Family History of Illnesses
- Health Insurance Information
- Notes about Lifestyle Habits (Smoking, Drinking, Exercise, Sleep, etc.)
- Permission Forms for Release of Information (If Needed)
- Questions or Notes for Medical Professionals
Collecting and organizing medical information for a loved one can feel overwhelming, but the more information you have, the better care they will be able to receive. Our advice is to find and write down any medical information as soon as possible. Start collecting medical records, make copies, and begin putting them in one place even if you don’t have time to organize them right away. Prioritize putting emergency contact in a location that’s easy to spot and collect as much medical information for your loved one as soon as you can.