Go! Section August 15-21, 2011
by Stacey Hatton
Have you ever exited your physician’s office and realized you forgot to ask half of your questions? Or you didn’t divulge the most integral symptoms you were experiencing? Frustrating, right!? How are medical providers to give an accurate diagnosis when they get limited pieces of the puzzle?
So What is This Journal?
Any type of recording of a patient’s medical history which is kept at home and updated by the patient, caregiver and/or guardian is this new trend. And according to the Daily Press (Newport News, VA, 2011), “A written record of your health history can help prevent many medical errors.”
Suggested Journal Details:
- Hospitalizations and dates
- Surgeries and dates
- Major illnesses or chronic diseases (date of onset)
- Allergies to medicines/foods and reactions
- Medications (including herbals, supplements, and over-the-counter): the doses and frequency
- Blood type
- Family history of major diseases and ages
- Blood sugar issues – include BS readings
- Blood pressure problems – include BP averages
There are various ways to keep this record for yourself and/or your family. Keeping a folder or notebook accessible, which can be readily grabbed when you head out for appointments, emergencies or when an ambulance is called is advised. The children’s information pages should be made known to your babysitters as well.
Some families put their journals on a CD or a flash drive. Hand the flash drive to the hospital staff and they can download the information, and print it off for the emergency doctors and the chart.
Dr. Marc Scarbrough, a Hospitalist at Lawrence Memorial Hospital says, “It makes caring for the patient safer when we have an accurate list of their medicines, and when we know what medical conditions a person has and the surgeries/procedures they have had performed.”
“People who do not have this information in a printed form are putting themselves at risk for adverse events. It can lead to unnecessary tests or unwanted drug interactions,” reports Dr. Scarbrough.
When it comes to healthcare, the days of paper charts are becoming a thing of the past. Not only are hospitals getting rid of paper, but your doctor’s office may be doing so as well.
Dr. Eric Huerter, an Internist from Reed Medical Group says his office uses electronic medical records and believes patients providing personal health journals would be beneficial.
For routine visits, these journals would be especially useful “for diabetics and asthmatics. Blood sugar and peak flow readings are hard to keep up with – but probably it would be most helpful with medication changes.”
Dr. Huerter says, “Primarily it’s a good thing when you are trying to get information in the computer record for that first visit.”
The biggest concern of the health journal from a physician’s perspective is having excessive details. “If it is too thorough the most important issues could be negative,” says Dr. Huerter.
The Daily News reports, “You don’t need to record minor illnesses such as colds or strep throat… (just) don’t go overboard.”
It would be harmful that significant information could get lost because it isn’t in the correct program in the computer.
“People bringing in X-rays on CDs are always helpful,” says Dr. Huerter. It could be “frustrating if the (health journal) gets placed in its own electronic file.” A staff person “would have to update their electronic medical record (with the health journal facts).”
So keep in mind, while compiling your journal, countless facts can distract your provider from your main issues, and you don’t want them to stray from the true diagnosis because you got over-zealous with your journal!
— McClatchy Newspapers contributed to this story.