Be Your Best Advocate

I’ve recently spent a lot of time in medical offices supporting and advocating for family members. Anyone who has done so will quickly tell you how annoying it is to fill out the same paperwork over and over. We would all like to think that the staff will have this information on file, or be able to recall it from memory. Although there are talented and dedicated people in the medical profession, the truth is that most see dozens of people a day and are hard-pressed to keep information up-to-date. Of course they keep medical records from visit to visit. But, things can change constantly, and they may no longer have the latest information. And relying on memory only works as well as our ability to recall; which can be compromised in an emergency or traumatic situation. Supporting our doctors and caregivers with supplemental information can make a big difference in the care we receive.

Here’s and idea for what should be on a personal healthcare record (PHR):

Part One: Emergency Medical Information (EMI)
– Your name, age, address
– Emergency contact name, address and phone number
– Name and phone number for your Healthcare Proxy or Healthcare Power of Attorney (POA) (if any…..and why don’t you have one!)
– Your preferred hospital (where your POA and Advance Directive documents should be on file)
– Allergies. Including medications and latex sensitivities
– Current medications. To help prevent a possible conflict with medications or procedures.
– Current health issues
– Current and past physicians, their phone numbers, and a brief description of why they were seen- Immunization history
– Past health issues

Part Two: A running log of events
– A running record of vitals provides an expectation for your normal blood pressure, pulse, etc.
– Latest test results
– A running summary of topics discussed with, and medical directions provided by, caregivers

This is Steps For Today, so let’s get started now….

1. Set a date on your calendar the date by which you’re going to get this accomplished. Give yourself a couple of weeks. If your using an electronic calendar, set a few reminder notifications along the way.

2. Much of this information is now available through online portals and apps (such as MyChart) offered by your healthcare provider. I recommend that you get familiar with what’s available.

3. Create an EMI record, even if it’s handwritten, containing part one from above. Make sure your family and caregivers know how to find it. It is recommended that part one (the EMI) be carried with you at all times. This can be on paper, a thumb drive, or something describing how it can be accessed online.

4. Create a log, either written or electronic, to carry with you to each medical appointment. Take notes on your vitals, discussions, diagnoses, and treatment plans.

5. Make sure your appropriate family members, or trusted loved-ones, know about your records and how to access them.

More information on these topics can be found at:

Remember, this information is only useful if shared with your caregivers. They can’t read your mind. Share your history, thoughts and concerns at each visit.

Speaking of sharing, I am always looking for new ways to help others. Please share any tips, experiences, or suggestions for this topic here.

As always, thanks for reading.
And remember to take the next step…

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