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  1. Rodts, Mary Faut Editor, MS, MSA, CNP, ONC, FAAN

Article Content

Filling out the baby books, finishing the photo album or jotting down one's health information are just a few of the things that seem to always get put to the side in our busy and hectic lives. Recently, I was with a family whose loved one was in a very precarious state of health. Listening to the exhausted and emotional family try and discuss the pertinent past medical history was frustrating. As important pieces of the history were missed and then remembered, it became very confusing as to what had happened when. How much simpler it would have been if there was an up-to-date personal health record available?

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Kupchunas (pages 185-191) discusses the importance of keeping an up-to-date personal health record (PHR). Personal health records are not necessarily new. Over time parents have kept immunization records on their children, placed height and weight on colorful graphics that adorn children's bedrooms or written allergies on the inside of a check book just in case the information was needed. Today different options are available to keep track of past and current medical history. There is no doubt that having this information in one accessible place has enhanced healthcare provider interactions and has been known to save lives in emergent situations


Today there are different methods to track one's own PHR; which one is best must be determined by the individual. Utilizing a form such as the one Kupchunas suggests (pages 187-191) or developing a similar type of form is a place to start. For those who are comfortable with computers, software programs and Internet accessible sites are available. The best resource for you and your family is up to you.


The next most important step is telling your loved ones how to access your PHR. In addition, keeping a card in your wallet of the people that can access your information in case of an emergency is also a good idea. Keeping your information up-to-date is also crucial to helping your healthcare providers know all there is about you.


And while we are at it, lets also discuss the need for each of us to have a current Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare executed and known to family or significant others. Discuss your thoughts and wishes with your designee(s). Make sure that those who have been given the responsibility for your health decisions if you are unable understand what you want and have a legal copy of the document available to them at all times. There is nothing more heart wrenching than having family have to guess at what should be done in an emergency situation.


Reading the article on PHR has made me pause and think about what I need to do to help my healthcare provider help me in the future. Taking the time now to develop your own PHR is something that should not be put aside any longer!!