- A personal medical record combines all of the medical information collected
by each facility or doctor involved in your care into a single file that
is easily accessible.
- Personal records should include test results, treatment reports, and notes
from each hospital, clinic, or health care provider you have visited.
- Federal law requires doctors and medical facilities to allow patients to
access to their medical records.
- Hard-copy files of medical information should be kept in a safe deposit
box or fireproof home safe, while online files should be password protected
and backed up onto a CD, flash drive, or password- protected cloud.
Keeping track of your personal medical information is an important step
in managing your care.
- Having a compilation of your test results, treatment reports, and the chart
notes written at your reports allows you to maintain a comprehensive record
of your medical history, especially if you visit more than one doctor.
- It is smart to maintain up-to-date personal copies of your own records.
This is your personal information, and having this gives you the power
to be your own medical advocate. Here are some very good reasons to be
proactive and organized about maintaining records for yourself.
- If you need a medical record from a certain time and date, you have it
filed away and it is always available when you need it.
- Should you decide to see a new doctor, you can bring your complete medical
records and ensure that you have the best care possible. Your comprehensive
health records tell a story that is much more easily understood than trying
to remember dates and symptoms at your new appointment.
- If you have had side effects or any complications with surgeries or other
procedures, they will be clearly marked in your records. Doctors may also
add notes after your visits that you deserve to have copies of.
- Some time when we go through traumatic illness, (especially as children)
we may forget the minute details because we want to put the experiences
past us. These records allow our doctors to be fully informed of our medical
history without having to relive the experiences.
- Having all of our medical records in a singular, easily accessible location
is an asset to our children. Genetics tend to play a large role in certain
medical conditions, and the ability to hand down medical records is priceless.
Allowing them the opportunity to recall what treatments worked well could
help in their healing processes as well.
- There is something to be said about the comfort of our own homes, especially
in contrast to new doctors’ offices. Having a personal copy of your
medical records allows yourself the ability to sit and go over them carefully
in the comfort of your own home.
- Having a personal copy of your medical records is empowering. Being able
to read them whenever you choose – without needing to fill out a
request form, and then wait for processing – is your right as a patient.
- Having your own copy can also be a great help with managing insurance claims.
The process of keeping track of what is paid and not paid can be simplified
when you can look at the policies and your records at the same time. This
also applies to legal matters.
- Further, you may be eligible for new insurance benefits, and being able
to match your medical records to such policies can benefit you.
- If you have had cancer in the past, a recurrence of cancer gives new doctors
details. You might have moved and the stress of the diagnosis causes an
overwhelming feeling. Having the records, and being able to share them
at your own will, makes the situation more contended.
What is considered medical records when a hospital asks?
It depends on the reason and the hospital. The hospital will usually tell
you what they are looking for.
If it is cancer recurrence:
- It is best to have your diagnosis, cancer type and what stage if there
- What was the date you were diagnosed and the date of recurrence?
- Homeopathic treatments
- Copies of any radiology, diagnostic, blood work and other lab and pathology
from any surgery (biopsy, lumpectomy etc.)
- Complete treatment information, such as chemotherapy drug names, doses,
radiation sites and doses of radiation therapy, surgery and hormone therapy
- anything that was prescribed for treatment.
- Treatment Start dates and end dates and if you are still on the therapies
- Complications, side effects
- List of medications or procedures used to treat side effects and pain,
nausea, other types of care, such as physical therapy and nutritional support.
- Treating physician and specialist contact information including psychologist,
Most hospitals provide access to medical records through secured online
portals. However, because this is a somewhat new system, not all hospitals
have transitioned to ‘being online.’ Should that be the case,
know your power and act upon your rights. Formally request a copy of your
records from the hospital directly, and they will help you.
Remember to organize your personal medical records and keep them secure.
Put them in a safe deposit box, or a home safe. Online records should
have a password that no one can figure out. It is wise to have one person
you can trust to give a copy of the most important medical information
to in case of an emergency. Look at the process of compiling your medical
records as one of empowerment; you are in charge, and you deserve to have
the entirety of your medical history documented and available at your
desire or need.