Organizing for That Which We Don’t Want: The Medical Emergency

If you haven’t faced it yet, chances are good that at some point in your life cycle you will have to deal with a medical crisis of one sort or another. An aging parent may take a fall, or your spouse may require emergency surgery. These are not things we want to think about but having an organized system – a go to spot – for all of your medical information (prescriptions, co-pay amounts, insurance forms, lab results, etc). can make all the difference in the world should calamity strike.

If you are a somewhat organized person, use the tips below by creating a file system for easy access to all of your records. Creative right-brained people may want to organize the information in a box, or, hole-punch all the paperwork to fit inside a 3″, 3-ring binder. Regardless of how you process information, you want to create a space for a variety of information that falls under the category of “Medical.”

A special note for same-sex couples (residing in states where our marriages are still illegal). I cannot emphasize enough the importance of creating a clear path toward your right to speak on behalf of your partner. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) has strict privacy and security rules to ensure patients’ rights and include legal definitions for who is/isn’t a family member, who can/cannot speak on your behalf. Once you meet the person of your dreams and decide to set-up house, your next action should be a visit to your family attorney to create the paper trail to ensure your access your loved one.

1. Gather together all your medical information into one organized and labeled binder or filing system. Some useful information to file is:

  • Health insurance cards, Medicare cards
  • A list of medications (including dosage, frequency, date started/stopped)
  • Medical history
  • All of your emergency contacts (their relationship to you, address, phone number, workplace, etc.)
  • Immunizations
  • Allergies and blood type
  • A sheet to record the date of doctor/dental visits and any tests performed
  • A sheet of diagnosis’ and the dates (blood pressure readings, cholesterol, blood sugar levels, symptoms)
  • A copy of a health care proxy, advanced directives or living will
  • If one is used, a power-of-attorney

2. Regularly update emergency contacts. Also ensure your power-of-attorney, health care proxy, advanced directives, or living will is up to date. Clearly label this information.

3. Create a section for medical bills from providers, labs, and hospitals.

4. Keep a log of Insurance claims you file with the insurance company and insurance claims that have been paid by your insurance company.

5. Create a separate section for financial paperwork, including medical bills you have paid. Include a section for out-of-pocket expenses.

6. Keep prescription drug information – past and current in one section.

7. Keep records of all medical testing such as lab, x-ray, and scan results.

8. Have a section for hospital discharge orders/documents.

9. Keep a calendar in one section of the binder to record all appointments.

10. Clearly label all information, files, and folders. The goal: To find what you need, when you need it. There’s nothing like being organized in the event of a medical emergency.

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