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Boomers: Time to Start Keeping Your Own Medical Records

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by Dr. Allan Hamilton, MD, FACS

Boomers: Time to Start Keeping Your Own Medical Records

There’s only one way you’re going to survive in the twenty-first century: make sure whenever you go into a hospital or clinic that your health care record is accurate. No, I don’t mean you need to attend medical school. I’m referring to the fact that you need to take charge of your own records. There are several reasons. First, your health is fractionated between as many as a half dozen specialists. Yes, one day there will be a seamless electronic medical record (EMR) and there will also be world peace. But, for right now, touting EMRs is just a good way for a lot of software companies to keep selling upgrades to physicians and hospitals. Chances are your records are spread out in three or four institutions and offices and they’re not shared and, when you need them to be, the internet will be down. Last reason: the endless questions and questionnaires that you get about what medications? What allergies? When did you last have surgery? When did you last fill out a questionnaire? If you consolidate your records into one thorough history and list of medications, then you get to write down “see attached.”

So here are a few tips to get you started:

Write a complete list of all medications you take. Don’t forget eye drops. Yes, aspirin is a medication (a very important one too). Include all (I mean all) vitamins, supplements, herbal remedies, and voodoo dolls you employ.
Put a medical history together. It sounds daunting but it’s dirt simple:
A medical history starts off with a list of all the surgeries you have ever had. List the surgery, where it was performed, name of the surgeon, and the year.

Next, list all chronic medical problems you have ever had. Just list them (High blood pressure, arthritis…whatever it is just put it down and the year it started).

Next you list all your medications (see above).

Then any allergies.

  1. Next list all your points of contact with important phone numbers. Your spouse. Significant others. Family members, Your attorney (just kidding). And your doctors and their office phone numbers!
  2. Next attach your medical power of attorney and living will (don’t need a lawyer for these).
  3. Next time you get ready to go to the hospital or Emergency Room, make at least a dozen photocopies and then hand them out like newspapers on the corner whenever anyone asks you a question.

     “What meds do you take?”

     “Here you go.” Hand ‘em a copy.

     “Do you have any allergies?”


     “Who’s your primary care physician?”


Last time I was in the hospital, I made fifteen copies and used twelve of them.

Voila, you’ve streamlined your healthcare and made sure the information was recorded accurately and faithfully transmitted. Just keep updating it whenever something changes. Getting things right is half the battle to ensure people don’t make mistakes. And don’t hold your breath for an EMR that really works; but, in the meantime, you can employ a service like Road I.D. ( It’s a wrist bracelet that allows first responders and health care workers to access an updateable, secure medical profile via telephone or internet. Great idea if you’re going off the beaten path or outside the country (and, yes, make sure to pack a copy of your medical record in your luggage too).

Tags: chronic medical problems electronic medical record emrs important phone numbers questionnaires

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