Organizing Medical Information Can Save Your Life

keep good recordsKeeping your medical and financial records organized and in an easy-to-find place could be a lifesaver in an emergency situation.

If you’ve been in an accident and can’t provide the medical team with information regarding your medical history, what medications you’re taking, or who your doctor is, the responsibility is passed to the family member – spouse, sibling, parent, or child – who meets you at the hospital. If they don’t know the answers, or are too distraught to remember them, your medical team could be left guessing.

And it happens — more often than we wish to believe. It isn’t until it happens to us, or someone we love, that we realize how important it is to have easily accessible and updated emergency files.

The following tips and strategies for keeping your records in order can help make a difficult situation a little less stressful:

  1. Carry a list of emergency contacts on your person – Medical personnel often turn to phones and wallets to help them identify people who can answer questions if you are unable to. Keep a list of up-to-date emergency contacts in your wallet, or identify contacts in your phone using the letters I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency). Adding that in front of your emergency contact’s name could help personnel identify them faster.
  2. Keep your own medical records – And all in one place. The reality is that people change doctors, records get lost, and practices shut down, so it’s up to you to keep your own health profile current. List past surgeries or treatments you’ve received, conditions and diseases that you’ve been diagnosed with, and any allergies you may have. It doesn’t hurt to provide a list of health problems your close relatives have dealt with as well. This will provide your current physician with the right information to help you with the problem you’re having now, not the one you had 5 years ago.
  3. Carry a list of prescriptions and dosages – This could help prevent a dangerous or life-threatening drug interaction. List the names, dosages, frequency, and the doctor who prescribed it. Include any dietary supplements you take over-the-counter, too.
  4. Legal documents – No one wants to think about it happening to them, but keeping a living will and health care power of attorney, is very important. A living will covers your wishes regarding medical treatment — what you want to receive and under what conditions. The Power of Attorney gives a trusted family member or friend the right to make decisions for you if you’re unable. You can prepare the papers yourself (AARP provides links to your state’s forms here), or have an attorney do it for you.
  5. Compile all of your insurances – Life, auto, home, health, etc. Keep a list of your current policies that includes policy types and numbers, and contact information for an agent or the company. It’s best to store the actual policies in a fireproof lock-box or safe, and to keep a copy of it off-site as well, with a family member, your attorney, or your executor, for example.

Taking the time to organize your paperwork now can make a difference later. Don’t just tell your spouse or family where they can find your papers — make sure you can locate theirs as well. Having things ready ahead of time can ultimately help reduce the stress and distress you and your family would experience during an emergency situation.

Let SelectQuote help put your mind at ease.  Our agents are available to answer any questions you have about life insurance and to help you find a policy that’s right for you and your family.

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