From The Desk of Josh Gitalis

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There is only one person in charge of your health. It’s not your doctor, or your chiropractor, or your nutritionist, or your nurse practitioner, or any health care provider. It’s you! As such, it is your responsibility to keep a copy of all of your health records.

In a day when people are getting advice from multiple professionals, and visiting multiple facilities, isn’t it just common sense to have all of your records kept in one easy-to-access place?

It is inevitable that you will need easy access to your medical information, or the medical records of a loved one. This is especially true in emergency situations when remembering all of the details of one’s medical history is often difficult.

In 2009 in the US, there were over 2.2 million visits to the hospital due to reactions from people taking properly prescribed drugs.1 I would surmise that if people had their records accessible for all health care practitioners, these numbers would have been lower.

Here are 5 reasons why you should have a copy of your medical records:

  1. Prevent medical errors: Although doctors have strict diagnostic criteria to meet before recommending a treatment protocol, mistakes are occasionally made. Having a record of all of your medications, surgeries, and treatments can greatly decrease the chance of interactions or inappropriate diagnostics.
  2. Track your progress: I once had a client who was seeing me for hypothyroidism. I asked her to get a copy of any relevant medical records. During our first appointment she handed me 10 years worth of thyroid tests. Looking over them I could see that her TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels slowly increased from normal, to out of the “optimal” range, to out of the “medical” range, eventually reaching a level appropriate for a medical diagnosis. You could see the hypothyroidism coming from miles away, but no one ever looked to see the trend. This persons symptoms and discomfort could have been prevented.
  3. Understand past and present treatment approaches: When I work with a client I always want to find out both, what worked for them and what didn’t, with regards to their main concern. From this, I can be sure I don’t recommend protocols that have been tried already. For example, if a person is tired all of the time and doesn’t know why, a quick review of past and present treatment approaches might reveal that in the past both iron and B12 were low, but the person is only taking iron supplements. Thus, the treatment can be adjusted by adding vitamin B12.
  4. Save time in an emergency situation: In an emergency situation, seconds could be the difference between life and death. Having all of the pertinent health information handy and accessible can literally save your life or the life of a loved one.
  5. Empowerment: There are now multiple studies showing that when patients are actively involved in their treatment, the results are much better than for those who don’t play an active role in their treatment.2 In addition, health care costs go down.3

I tell every single client that works with me to keep records of anything and everything relating to their health. When it comes to health, it is best to be prepared before any health issues arise. And if you live to a hundred and twelve without ever needing to refer back to your health, well then just consider that an insurance policy that never had to be redeemed.

– Josh

  2. Health Aff February 2013 vol. 32 no. 2 207-214
  3. Health Aff February 2013 vol. 32 no. 2 357-367