Taking Charge of Your Medical Records and History

You should always know the names and dosages of the medications you take.  It might seem a big task to remember this but try.  Write down your prescriptions on a piece of paper and put it in your wallet.  You may need this information.

We also recommend keeping a file in your home on medicines.  This file does not contain the bottles of the medicines.  It contains a list of all drugs currently being taken.  It could also contain:

  • History of medicines taken (dosages, when taken, unusual experiences such as side effects)
  • Safety information sheet that comes with prescriptions
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of pharmacies
  • Names, account numbers, and phone numbers of insurance companies
  • Results of DEXA scans
  • Results of blood and urine tests
  • List of dates of hospitalizations and reasons

You might not be acxustomed to asking for the results of your DEXA and blood and urine tests. The doctor's office may not be accustomed to giving them out. Ask for them anyway. Get in the habit of keeping records.

How to keep the records

1)      Paper files.  A file cabinet or storage system is one option.
2)      Computer.  Some of your records might come in electronic form. These you can print out for your paper file.  Others might come as paper.  These you can scan into an image file for the computer. Dedicate a folder on your home system for your medical records.
3)      Internet/Cloud.  The advantage of this is that you can access your records from any internet connected device.  One possible disadvantage is security, as some people feel uneasy putting their personal health data in the cloud where future hackers may be able to get it.

Now your doctor’s office or clinic or another organization may offer to do this work for you.  They may say they are doing it for free and show you fancy files.  That’s all well and good and you might want to take them up on it.  BUT!  You should still keep your own records. You don’t want them held hostage.

So here’s what the Latina Health Project  recommends:


  • Piece of paper with list of medicines, allergies, diagnosed conditions
  • Insurance card and/or name and address of doctor

Home (paper files or computer files or both):

  • Full details and history

Personalized Treatment

The medical community, and in particular the pharmaceutical industry, talks of the coming development of personalized treatment.  The idea is that current treatments for all sort of diseases are too general and fail to take into account the individualities of each of us. Another idea somewhat attached to personalized treatment is a move toward patient-centeredness.  It will take some reconfiguring of the health care system, but the notion is that each person will be the center of his or her healthcare with doctors and nurses coming in to do various services.  One requirement is that the patient’s medical history and records be kept together, probably with the patient. We are a long way from there, but we can get started with everyone keeping their own records.

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