A computer screen with an accordion file book coming out of the screen.

How to Organize Your Medical Records

One aspect of self-management we don’t often hear about is how to store and organize the information we receive in relation to our health.

Lab tests, x-rays, prescription paperwork, referral letters, receipts...it’s a lot!

Over time the volume of information we receive can feel overwhelming

If you’re not a naturally organized person this can be a source of stress when you can’t locate an important document. It’s also a major issue in an emergency situation when others are suddenly trying to figure out what you need, what could potentially harm you, and who best to provide your care.

Being across my own health records has given me a better understanding of what’s happening in the big picture of my AS. This empowers me to have a part in the medical decisions and conversations that affect me.

It also guides me on what my current health priorities are and what needs extra attention. I can notice patterns, irregularities or points of concern and ask my doctor whether these are significant.

If you’re like me, you probably don’t remember details from previous years’ scans or blood tests, but you still find it interesting to compare them over time.

When paperwork is scattered in unknown locations throughout the house this information gets lost, along with all those benefits.

So what’s the solution?

As with most things, the best system is a simple one and the one that makes sense to you.

For me it’s a folder in the filing cabinet drawer which is divided into years. Every medical document I receive within the calendar year goes into the appropriate envelope (there’s one for me and one for the rest of the family).

The exception to this is prescriptions, which I keep in my car glovebox because of the number of times I’ve arrived at the pharmacy without them! It frustrated me so much that in the end I decided the car was the best place to store these.

For anything sent electronically, I have an equivalent folder on my laptop, once again divided up into years. Emailed letters or reports are easily filed and retrieved as needed, and I make a habit of dealing with them as soon as they arrive so as not to lose track.

Creating a summary document

The final document is a summary I’ve put together myself for use in an emergency. This is kept with our important family documents and I’ve made sure my family members know about it.

On it I have listed names and contacts of my doctors, details of prescription medication I’m on, allergies and the full names of the medical conditions I have been diagnosed with. Hopefully it won’t be needed but it does give me peace of mind to know I’ve got that covered.

Getting my medical records into some kind of system has taken pressure off many small moments I would have otherwise spent in a state of stress.

What about you? Have you found a system that works? I’d love to know your tips and tricks for keeping track of medical records at home.

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