Do you keep a medical file at home?

Most people I meet tell me that they do not have copies of any blood or other laboratory tests at home. They take their doctors word for it, when told their numbers are good or too high etc. They are not on top of their own health and I believe by being less than vigilant about keeping their own records, to some extent are not taking full responsibility for their health either. Let me explain. I have the perfect example of what happened to me. I had my vitamin D levels checked along with some other standard blood tests. On my follow-up visit, my doctor proclaimed that “everything was good”. I asked for a copy of the lab paper work and it was only when I got home and read the report in detail did I realize that my vitamin D level was barely in the acceptable range. I quickly increased my vitamin D dose! When any number falls outside of a predetermined acceptable range, the lab typically flags it for the doctor, making it easy to pick up. In the rush of a typical doctor’s day, I am guessing that many doctors do not study lab reports in detail (assuming the patient has no particular risk factors) and they could miss the fact that while some numbers are within acceptable ranges, they have been falling or rising over a period of time, or in my case, barely acceptable. This is where it pays to be pro-active. What would happen if there was a fire or natural disaster at your doctor’s office that wiped out your medical records? Wouldn’t you feel good knowing that you had copies of everything at home? Next time you are at the doctors, don’t be afraid to ask for copies of your tests or anything else you might want. You might be surprised the number of times you will refer to it as you learn and educate yourself on health, nutrition, supplements and medications.
UPDATE, OCTOBER 2014:  I recently called my doctor for a physical, as it had been 4 years since my last visit. I was advised that my doctor had retired 3 years ago! Somehow they missed me when they were calling all her patients. When I asked if they still had my medical file, they said it had been sent to a storage facility and it would cost me $25 to retrieve it. Seeing as I had copies of my lab tests and there wasn’t much else in my medical history, I decided to save myself $25 and not pay for retrieval. Glad I listen to my own advice!


2 thoughts on “Do you keep a medical file at home?

  1. Fantastic suggestion, I now keep records of my medical reports. I have noticed that most physicians have many patients and probably don’t read all reports in detail. That’s why the lab flags results below or above normal values. Thanks for the tip!

  2. I’ve been keeping a medical journal for about 8 years now. I record symptoms and other info so I can give the Dr. detailed information and then I record what the doctor tells me, along with test results. That way, I remember what the doctor said. And I can look back to determine when I had certain tests and what the results were and just keeping track of my health. And yes, I do ask for a copy of the results. It’s a good idea to take the results to your Naturopath, as they look at the information in a different way. Thanks for suggesting this – it’s a great idea for everyone!

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