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Organizing Medical Records

Keeping a file with all your medical records in one place is a good idea, especially if you're seeing more than one doctor or seeking a second opinion. As you organize your health records, you'll save time and feel more knowledgeable about your health. You'll also have key information readily available for discussions with members of your healthcare team.

Get copies of lab reports from your healthcare providers and keep them in a file folder, a three-ring binder or any other system that works best for you. Organize test reports by date (chronological) so they're easy to find. By keeping organized records, you'll be able to:

  • store all your test results and health information in one place
  • compile information from different doctors' offices
  • play an active (and more informed) role in your care
  • refer to reports when talking with your healthcare team or caregivers
  • track trends or changes over time (for example, levels of B12, iron or folate can play a role in anemia)

Your file should include:

  • your medical history
  • your initial diagnosis
  • your pathology reports
  • your blood, marrow, imaging and other test results
  • your treatment recommendations
  • cancer treatment dates and locations
  • specific sites and amounts of radiation therapy, if applicable
  • a list of drugs or supplements used to treat your cancer, including the dates you started and stopped taking them
  • a list of other therapies you've undergone, such as blood transfusions, and dosages
  • a list of any side effects you experience
  • a list of other drugs or supplements you take for other health reasons

How to Keep Track of Your Tests

Follow these tips to help you keep track of your tests:

  • Ask your doctor why certain tests are being done and what to expect.
  • Discuss test results with your doctor.
  • Find out if and when follow-up tests are needed.
  • Mark upcoming appointments on your calendar.

Getting Copies of Your Records

You're entitled to ask for and receive a copy of your medical records from a doctor or a hospital. (The originals must remain in the doctor's or hospital's file.) You must submit a written request to your healthcare providers since they must have written authorization to disclose medical records or the information contained in them. Some healthcare providers provide forms for you to complete. Doctors and hospitals may charge for copies of your medical reports, tests and X-rays or scan images.

last updated on Tuesday, March 15, 2011
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