Do you have your medical history, surgical history, allergies, reactions, and all of the medications you take with dosages on your smartphone?  You should!  It is easy to do and could save your life!

Do you have a written medical history?

We all have a medical history, but have you taken the time to write it down? Many individuals have great memories; but sometimes, especially in times of stress or pain, the memory of your last tetanus shot, doctor visit or the medications you have been prescribed can be fleeting. It can be difficult to remember dates and dosages but writing down your medical history has many useful benefits. Dr. James Mazzara, orthopedic shoulder, elbow and knee specialist serving patients in Manchester, South Windsor, Enfield, Enfield, Glastonbury and surrounding Hartford communities needs a complete medical history to properly treat his patients.

Why do I need a written health record?

Having a written health record is the best way to make sure you have a complete and accurate medical history. It can help you stay well so that you can quickly pass along important information to your doctor or medical personnel. A written health record can help you remember important health information that is needed to treat you properly.  Your other medical conditions can influence what treatment options can be recommended and which medications can be used.

Written medical histories can also help you with the following:

  • Remembering dates of screenings or vaccines
  • Prior surgeries and when they were performed
  • Keep track of the medicines you are taking including the dosages
  • Have information ready on your family history which often plays a role in your health.
  • Keep track of medication allergies or adverse side effects as well as non-medication allergies.
  • Can help you remember when you felt symptoms of any conditions and how they have progressed, if they have gotten worse or better
  • For patients with chronic illness, it helps track their condition and tracks flare-ups

Doesn’t my doctor keep track of my medical history?

When you provide you physician with a complete medical history, he or she can be more effective and can help you better manage your healthcare. Yes, most physicians will have a medical history. However, in this day and age, where multiple doctors are used, as well as different specialists, a complete running history is difficult for all physicians to maintain. Keeping your own record helps fill the gaps of information from doctor to doctor. For instance, your primary care physician may not know that your cardiologist changed your medicine or dosage. Your complete personal history can bridge that gap.  Unfortunately, your medical information is not accessible to all of your doctors since they don’t all share the same electronic medical record systems.

Your health record is helpful when you travel.

Rather you are going to the grocery store or a trip across the ocean, having your personal health record ready and available can save time and even your life. You may be healthy one minute and experience a sudden change the next. Accidents can occur and sometimes the unexpected can throw you into a tailspin. An organized document or file with your information can be very helpful for you, your loved ones and for medical personnel. Having your health record during an emergency just may save your life.

What should be included in my health history?

Making your own health history does not need to be difficult or time consuming. Here are the key pieces of information to include in your information:

  • Your Name
  • Age
  • Date of Birth
  • Blood type (if you know it)
  • Known allergies (include drug and food allergies and what kind of reaction you had to those medications. A medication side effect is not the same as an allergy and this can influence treatment options.)
  • List of chronic conditions you have
  • List of surgeries, when they occurred, and why they were performed
  • List and dosage of current medication(s)
  • Current primary physician name and phone number
  • Your pharmacy phone number and location
  • Do you have a living will or advanced medical directive? (And where it can be found)
  • Health insurance information:
    • Company name, phone and address
    • Your Member ID and Group number
    • Secondary insurance information

Subsequent information should include:

  • Dates of doctor visits (this will help you keep track of them, too)
  • Doctors you are seeing, other than your primary care physician
  • Past physicians and reason for seeing them
  • Dates and results of tests, procedures and health screenings
  • Information on any past major illnesses or surgeries
  • Family medical information:
    • Does your family have a history of cancer, heart disease, diabetes or auto-immune disorders? (list them)
  • Are you an organ donor?
  • Lifestyle habits:
    • Smoking or drinking alcohol
    • Sleep habits
    • Exercise frequency
    • Dietary habits
  • Mental health conditions

Where should I keep my medical history?

We live in a wonderful time where an entire computer-worth of information can travel with us via a smartphone. One of the best ways to keep your medical information with you and up to date is on your smartphone. Here are some great ideas for keeping your information handy:

  • Take a picture of your written health history and store it in “Favorites” in your photos. You can also create a photo-folder that says “Medical” and move your health history photos to that folder
  • Use your “Notes” folder in your phone to make a list of health information.
  • Use an app. There are several free apps for storing and tracking your health information.
  • Use an on-line platform. Some companies offer free on-line services to store your health information. (Just make sure they are safe!)
  • Keep copies in your wallet, purse, car, at work and at home.
  • Give a copy to a close relative or friend.

You can create your health history in steps.

It doesn’t have to take days to create your own “portable” health history. Take some time each week to create small pieces of information and then put them on your phone or in a file. The next time you need the information, it will be at your fingertips!

For more information on creating a personal health history, or to ask questions about your current orthopedic history, please contact the offices of Dr. James Mazzara, orthopedic specialist serving Manchester, South Windsor, Enfield, Enfield, Glastonbury and the surrounding Hartford communities.