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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

Your traveling medical record   (March 1, 2007)

Many people have their medical records scattered in different offices: general medical care here, diabetes records there, hospital reports somewhere else. Since you never can predict which of these records might be important to help with your care during a trip away from home, I’ve always thought it'd be wise to keep a consolidated condensed version of all this information with you when traveling.

Here's how to do it:

1. Contact your personal physician, and show him/her this commentary.

2. Ask the staff to give you copies of the following pages from your chart:

  • Any recent lab results (within the past six months or so)
  • The most recent copy of your:
  • "Chemistry Profile" lab results
  • EKG
  • Chest X-ray
  • urinalysis
  • Any correspondence from one physician to another physician (for example, a report from a cardiologist to your primary physician about your heart)
  • Immunization records
  • The "Discharge Summary" from any hospitalizations within the last few years
  • Operation and Pathology reports from any major surgery
  • Other important-looking stuff

3. Bring your Traveling Medical Record with you to every specialist that you see. Show it to them, invite them to make a copy of any page that they need for their files, and indicate that you want a copy of "important stuff" from your medical record at the specialist's office, to add to your "TMR."

4. Be prepared to sign medical release forms authorizing the doctor's office to give you copies of the reports. It is usually legally required that the records must be made available to you, but it may be the doctor's office's policy to ask you to sign a release form.

5. Keep your "TMR" in a heavy-duty cardboard folder that can be tied or snapped shut. Be sure to have your name, date of birth, home address, phone numbers, and other vital data easily visible on the outside of the folder. Also, leave room on the outside to indicate the address of where you'll be staying during your next trip!

6. And, when not traveling, leave your TMR in the trunk of the automobile that you are most likely to use when visiting your physicians, inside a plastic bag, so it's available when you visit your doc!

Always bring your Traveling Medical Record with you when traveling out-of-town for more than a day. Keep it in a carry-on suitcase or briefcase, not in a suitcase that might become separated from you.

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Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.



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