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For the Record

If you’ve ever been a patient of mine, chances are you’ve heard me talk about how important it is to have a physical therapist as a part of your medical team. Most people don’t think of their health care that way, but it’s true. The various physicians who provide services to you – including your primary care doctor, your dentist, any specialists you may see (such as an ophthalmologist or dermatologist), etc. – are a group of people working together towards a common goal (in this case, your optimal health). They are your medical team, and you are the team captain.

Communication is important on all teams, and your medical team is no different. It’s important for each of your physicians to be able to know what treatments you are receiving from others on your medical team as it may impact how they intend to treat you (for example, if your allergist wants to prescribe a medication for you, he or she will first need to know if you are already taking another medication that will interact negatively with it). The documentation of your treatments is called your medical record, and it’s extremely important that you and the members of your medical team have access to this.

It’s a smart move to maintain an ongoing file of all your medical records for yourself. After each treatment, request that your physician mail or fax you a copy of your records (many people don’t realize they have a right to their own medical records), and keep them all together in a secure location. Once you have the records yourself, it’s much easier to inform the other members of your medical team about the specifics of your treatments, such as the date of your last tetanus shot, the dosages of your prescription drugs, and the results of your last blood pressure reading.

It’s also a good idea to keep your basic medical info with you at all times. If you were in an emergency and unable to communicate, it would be crucial for those helping you to know, for example, whether you have a penicillin allergy or if you’re diabetic. Some people use medical alert bracelets to accomplish this. Another option is a medical information card (we offer such cards for free in our clinic) that contains your medication information, allergies, emergency contacts, and any other ongoing health issues. This can be kept next to your ID in your wallet, as this is a likely spot that emergency personnel would look if you were unable to communicate. And as an added bonus, next time you have to fill out a medical history questionnaire at a physician’s office, you’ll have all the answers on hand.

A good captain makes the necessary preparations to lead his team. By taking charge of your medical records, you can insure that your medical team will always have the information they need to achieve your optimal health. Stop by our clinic today to get your free medical information card, and keep moving, my friends!

– Alan

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