Life got a lot simpler for us when I made a medical notebook for my dad. His interest in accurately reporting relevant events and symptoms at any given medical appointment has always been minimal, and some days I was just too frazzled to rely on my own already overclocked brain.
An inexpensive three-ring binder from an office supply store made it much easier to keep information flowing and doctor visits productive. After I made Dad’s, I went home and made one for each member of my family.
You’ll adapt my suggestions to fit your own circumstances, but here’s what’s in each of the notebooks we use, in order as I put them in the binder, starting at the front:
- a transparent plastic sleeve for any documents that need to be discussed at the current appointment
- a plastic zipper pouch with a clear front for a pen or two, prescriptions or anything too small to keep or carry safely elsewhere in the binder
- a set of clear plastic dividers to mark off the sections described below (clear so you can see what’s behind them; plastic for durability)
- Section 1 — directions, referral information, with and a page with clear pockets for business cards (make sure you have your doctors’ business cards here)
- Section 2 — appointment records
- Section 3 — current medications
- Section 4 — current test results
- Section 5 — medical history
- Section 6 — family health history
- Section 7 — releases, authorizations (clerical stuff; copies of current medical releases, etc.)
- Section 8 — prescription instructions/other info (prescription data, additional referral information, or general instructions like dietary guidelines, lifestyle recommendations, etc., and a final clear pocket with a flap to seal it, with any historical test or x-ray information relevant to current problems)
With this notebook in hand, you can accomplish more than you’d imagine. If you’ve forgotten where the office is, you have the address and directions with you. If you’re tied up in traffic, you’ve got your doctor’s card with you, and can call ahead.
When filling out medical history forms, you no longer have to ‘get back to’ the office with dates and specifics. You’ll no longer have unasked questions when you’re pushed out the door after your allotted few minutes with the doctor.
Take it to the emergency room and you’ll have all the medical history you need at your fingertips — no matter how panicky things get.
You’ll have notes, instead of a faulty memory, to refer to once you’re home. You, and your doctor, will always be working from more, and more accurate, information.
And boy, will you have less stress! Make a Medical Record Book, Part 2 and Part 3 will detail the contents of the notebook and how I use it.