In large families particularly, it can be difficult to recall healthcare details for each person. There are several ways to keep track of medical history and everyday family health needs to ensure that accurate medical information can be found when needed.
Family Medical History
When attending a new doctor it is useful to have a summary of significant family illnesses or medical problems. These can be listed in a spreadsheet or word processor document, which can be easily updated and printed when required.
An average family would have information on the parents and children in the family, as well as major illnesses or medical issues for the grandparents, aunts and uncles. Significant illnesses might include (but not be limited to):
● heart and blood pressure conditions
● visual or hearing difficulties
● genetic disorders
● significant illnesses or operations
Each individual also needs a record of immunisations, illnesses, operations, hospital visits, reactions to medications, allergies and other general information that might be relevant to future medical care.
Care Charts for Sick Children
When young children are unwell, particularly if they are waking during the night needing medication, it can be difficult to keep track of what medications they have received. It is particularly important to keep a record of times and doses of medication if care of the child is shared by different adults.
This is most simply done by noting the time, dose, type of medication given and and any significant symptoms on a piece of paper that is kept on a family noticeboard or easily checked location. A comprehensive chart for monitoring sick children and general medical information is available from Busy Mothers.
Storing Family Medical Records
Allocate a file for each family member in your home filing system and keep all relevant medical information including a medical history summary, immunisation record, prescriptions, medical reports and test results together in one place.
Keep documents relating to health insurance and contact information for regular medical practitioners such as the family doctor, dentist and medical specialists in the same location.
Keep Track of Regular Medical Appointments
It is easy to forget to make appointments for ongoing health review consultations if they are required only every 6 to 12 months.
In a spreadsheet, list the months January to December in the first column and years as column headings .Adjust cell size for information to be entered for planning future check-ups. Family medical history, age, gender and general health issues will determine the type and frequency of appointments, but the following might be included:
● dental check-up
● pap smear and breast exam
● skin cancer/mole check
● asthma management assessment
● general health check
● eye examination
Prepare and Maintain a First Aid Kit
Organise a container with basic first aid supplies for emergencies and general health needs. This can be assembled with items purchased at a local pharmacy or can be purchased as an entire kit from pharmacies or first aid training organisations such as St John’s Ambulance.
First aid kit contents should be checked at least every 3 months to ensure that there are adequate supplies of regularly used items and to dispose of any items that have passed their expiry date. Store first aid kits and medications in a cupboard that cannot be accessed by children.
A small first aid kit for the car is also a good idea. Remember to check it every 3 months when the larger kit is reviewed.
Review Medical Supplies and Records Regularly
Establishing a system to file and record family medical information and monitor family medical supplies is an important part of managing a family’s health needs.