Keeping a Medical History Journal for You and Your Family
Why Keep a Medical History Journal?
It is important to be proactive when it comes to our personal health and the health of our family. Carefully detailing the medical history of each family member is becoming a more common trend in households everywhere.
In order for our health care professionals to properly assess us, having an accurate picture of our family medical history is critical. The initial set-up will take some effort to gather all the important information. Once you have taken the time to get all the details in order, it will be quite simple to maintain.
What Supplies Will You Need to Document Your Family Medical History?
There are many books and printable forms online that will help you get started. But I don’t feel that is necessary.
My suggestion is to obtain the following simple supplies:
- Large 3-ring binder
- Set of tab dividers for a 3-ring binder (enough for each family member you will be tracking)
- Lined paper for a 3-ring binder
Because every family is different with the number of members, their illnesses and other circumstances, pre-printed books or forms may not meet your needs. Therefore, simply using a 3-ring binder with tabs and paper is much more practical. This way, you can also remove and add pages any time you find it necessary.
Note: Take a moment to also determine if you wish to document the medical history of other family members such as your parents or grandparents, etc. I don't mean tracking details, but major illnesses and diagnoses that may be important in the future for you or possibly your children/grandchildren. For example, you may want to document a family history of diabetes or cancer that spans generations.
What to Include In a Medical History Journal
Consider the importance of tracking the following areas of your family’s health:
- Current physicians ~ name, phone number and address. Include dentist and eye doctor if you wish.
- Current insurance information ~ name, phone number, address and policy number. Include a copy of your health insurance card.
- Current medications ~ name of medication, dosage and instructions. Include over-the-counter supplements as they can have an interaction with prescribed medications.
- Allergies ~ name of what causes the allergy and its effects.
- Immunizations ~ list dates and immunizations/vaccines received.
- Physicals and major appointments ~ document the date of every complete physical, major medical appointments and the results.
- Specific tests ~ document the date and results of medical tests such as blood work, pap smear, PSA blood work, mammogram, colonoscopy, etc.
- Hospitalizations ~ keep track of dates, reason and results for any hospitalizations.
- Surgeries ~ keep track of surgeon’s name, dates, reason and results of any surgeries.
- Chronic diseases and medical conditions ~ document all conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure, etc., with the date the condition was first diagnosed, symptoms, follow-up procedures, tests, changes in condition, etc.
- Hereditary diseases ~ document any family history of major hereditary diseases that have affected children, parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles.
- Accidents ~ document accidents such as a broken arm or a brain injury such as a concussion.
Note: It is not necessary to include minor illnesses such as colds, upset stomach, headaches, etc., unless they are chronic.
Do You Keep A Medical History Journal?
Additional Thoughts on Keeping a Medical History Journal
1. Ask For Your Medical Records
If there is medical history information that you are unsure of and wish to include in your journal, contact your doctor, hospital, etc. to obtain a copy of your records.
2. Keeping Medical History Records for Your Family on the Computer
If you choose to keep track of your family medical history electronically, be sure to also keep a hard copy on disk or in paper form.
3. Electronic Medical Records
There are more and more healthcare initiatives that are turning to electronic record keeping where patients have immediate access to their personal records. In this case, it is still important for you continue to track its accurateness.
4. Unexpected Medical Emergencies
When you are traveling away from home, take your medical history journal with you in case you have any unexpected medical emergencies.
5. Take Your Medical History Journal to Appointments
Depending on the type of health care appointment, it may be beneficial to take the medical history journal with you. Being prepared and proactive for your medical appointments will assist your doctor and you in making sure you receive the best care possible.
The Importance of Keeping a Medical History Journal
Keeping track of the medical history for you and your family is a good idea. Take the time to maintain your journal to keep it current. It will prove to be extremely valuable for you, your family and future generations.
Wishing you the best!
This is Sharyn’s Slant