Communication could be the riskiest procedure in medicine. Researchers estimate that nearly eight million drug side effects could be prevented or resolved each year if doctors and patients communicated better (Archives of Internal Medicine, Jan. 24, 2005). They encourage doctors to let patients know what side effects to watch out for and patients to tell their doctors what symptoms they experience.
Drug reactions are not the only hazard. Investigators have found that some physicians fail to alert patients about abnormal test results (Archives of Internal Medicine, June 22, 2009). In disorganized practices, nearly one fourth of clinically important lab findings never made it to the patients’ attention.
That is why it is so important to keep track of your own health records. People who don’t bother to balance their checkbooks or monitor expenses may bounce checks. When the bank catches the problem, there is usually a big penalty.
Patients who don’t know what’s in their medical records or who are not aware of abnormal test results may also be in for a shock. Not learning that the level of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone, a measure of thyroid function) has risen well above normal might mean a person would suffer needlessly from symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, depression, hair loss and constipation.
It takes effort to overcome failures of communication. One tool is keeping track of your own health records. Mikey, a visitor to our website, offers the following example:
“I started accumulating my personal medical information in earnest about 10 years ago, and aggressively maintaining it about five years ago. It’s not easy, but it can be done. Lab results are especially tricky but important.
“The net of all this effort is that I now have a rather complete record, with several variables (e.g., BP, cholesterol, PSA) graphed over time for quick analysis. When my PSA started to rise quickly, it was easy to see and resulted in early confirmation and cure of prostate cancer. I take the complete history with me to every medical appointment, with a summary that I can give the provider.
“This shows that one can take the trouble to develop and maintain a complete history on your own. It may actually help in some instances. It’s a fun exercise, and you will die leaving a well-documented, if not beautiful, body.”
When people keep good records like Mikey does, they can track lab results more readily, as he did with his PSA. This is especially important for people with complicated or chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease.
To make it easier to keep track of important data, we have created a free one-page form for medical history.
Having your health information organized in one place can be helpful for you, your doctor and your family. Letting your children and grandchildren know about your health conditions can help them plan preventive strategies for themselves.

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  1. CT
    Reply

    Always read your articles with great interest in the paper. Came to the site to find the One Page Medical History Form but it is no where to be found. Can you e-mail it to me ? Thanks !
    I will be re-visiting your site often. Keep up the good works; I have always opted for a natural approach first.
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE:
    Dear CT,
    Sorry you had difficulties finding our free Medical History Form and our free Drug Safety Questionnaire on the back. For future reference, look on our home page in the upper left hand corner where it says Buy Guides right under the orange search box. Although it says “Buy Guides,” this guide is absolutely free. Links below. You will have to go through the cart checkout process, but at the end the guide will become available via email at no cost to you.
    https://store.peoplespharmacy.com/guides/drug-safety-questionnaire-free.html
    https://store.peoplespharmacy.com/guides/medical-history.html

  2. BDR
    Reply

    I tried to download the free medical history form but it was unavailable. Could you e-mail it to me?
    Thanks!

  3. Erna Zi
    Reply

    I was looking for the form for medical history but nothing comes up
    there are tags but nothing!!!

  4. ET
    Reply

    Read the article in the newspaper and made a point of coming on line to get a copy of your “free one-page form for medical history and drug safety”. Shame that all of the links on this article only go to “page not found”. Since this is my first visit to your page, I don’t know if this is to be expected or not. Oh, well.

  5. Interested
    Reply

    In the early 90s, a diagnostic that was positive, was reported to me as negative. So, I have managed to obtain most of my medical files. However, I find it difficult to obtain records from each visit, once they are available. As a result, since I am healthy and find the medical industry difficult to do business with on many fronts, I no longer purchase their services and tests. This doesn’t mean I will never do business again with this industry if needed.
    Why, when one purchases services/diagnostics, can’t one sign the release during the appointment, then either pick up or receive by mail the requested information? (I’m impressed that Mikey has the time and tenacity to have done so well with this.)

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