If a medical crisis should occur, do you know where to find all the information you need? Would your spouse or loved one be able to find critical medication information or insurance policies, or even the name and number of your doctor? October is National Organize Your Medical Information Month, and a good time to review and create a filing system for all your medical information. Many people use folders or a three-ring binder to organize and store notes, documents, bills, and everything else associated with medical care. Things to include are policy or ID numbers for Medicaid and all your other health insurance, prescription and dental plans. Also list your primary care doctor and contact information, and the same for all of your specialists. Include notes like the name of the nurse you work with, or the extension of the billing specialist. Keep an up-to-date list of medications and supplements, immunization history, any chronic medical conditions, and the latest test results. File all of your insurance papers, paid bills and warranties on medical equipment. It’s also a good idea to keep your durable power of attorney and end of life directives in this file. Put the file in an easily accessible place, and make sure your spouse or family member knows where it is in case of an emergency.
Medical and financial crises are often the result of a critical illness. Cancer, heart attack and stroke are just a few of the causes, and during Critical Illness Awareness Week we should all take the time to familiarize ourselves with early warning signs of a problem and seek medical intervention as soon as possible. No matter the cause, any illness caught in the early stages is easier to treat and less likely to become a critical medical problem.