When you or a family member is going through the diagnostic process, or are being treated for mesothelioma, it is an undeniable fact that there will be a multitude of paperwork and reports involved. Although each individual medical professional or facility will keep its own record of your care, it is also important that you maintain an accurate, up to date medical history of your own.
It is likely that several different doctors, possibly at various locations, will be involved in your care, and each will generate a series of test results, treatment reports, scripts for medications, etc. By consolidating and organizing this information in one file, you will always have access to what you need if questions arise, or if a report is lost or inadvertently destroyed. It will also give you an opportunity to go over your records in your own time, and make note of any questions or concerns you might have. In this way, you will become a more active participant in your health care, and will feel more knowledgeable and in control of your situation. Keeping a personal medical file is also helpful in managing your health insurance claims, taxes and other legal matters.
Your personal medical record file should include the following:
- Information on past medical history, including the dates and details of any previously diagnosed illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease.
- Information on past physical examinations and screening tests.
- Immunization records.
- Contact information for all doctors, clinics and/or hospitals involved in your diagnosis, treatment or other care.
- Dates of initial diagnosis and a schedule for subsequent treatments.
- Copies of reports and diagnostic tests, including laboratory results, pathology reports and imaging tests (x-ray, CT, MRI, PET).
- Treatment information including surgical reports, names and dosages of drugs used for chemotherapy and sites and dosages for radiation therapy.
- Notes on treatment results including any complications or side effects experienced.
- Information on supportive care such as pain management or nutritional support. All medications you are taking, including prescription and over the counter drugs, should be listed by name, dosage and how often they are taken.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is best to collect information for your file each time you have an appointment, test or procedure. At each doctor appointment, ask for any records being added to your file, and if you have a laboratory test or a procedure of any kind, request a copy of the test results or the procedure report. If you are hospitalized for any reason, request a complete copy of your hospitalization records when you are released. Keep copies of medical bills and insurance claims.
How you organize your file is a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer a filing cabinet, while others prefer a folder, binder or box; some prefer to scan documents into a computer file. Records can be divided according to date or by category such as appointments, tests or treatments. However you choose to compile your file, be sure it is stored in a safe place. You may wish to leave an additional copy with a relative or friend in case of emergency.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 2003 assures that all patients have access to their medical records, so if you did not start a medical file when you were first diagnosed or treated, you can still obtain the information you need. In this case, it may be necessary to request your records in writing, and you may need to complete an “Authorization to Release Medical Information”. Unfortunately, requesting records after the fact can take time, and you may be charged copying fees.
Related: Managing your medications.
Last updated Thu, 01/07/2010 – 16:31