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Along with regular lab tests and healthcare appointments, successfully managing your diabetes requires keeping your medical documents in order. Diabetes Dialogue spoke with Susie Jin, a pharmacist, certified diabetes educator and certified respiratory educator from Cobourg, Ont., for tips on how to get your paperwork organized, which is even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, why is it so important to get all my medical documents in order?

Keeping your medical records organized helps ensure that everyone on your healthcare team can do their part to optimize ongoing care for you. Taking an active role in your own health care and knowing your plan of care can also support communication between your healthcare team. 

Studies also show that people who take charge of their health have fewer diabetes complications and a better quality of life.

What should I keep?

If you do not already have this information, ask your healthcare team for a list of your medications and medical conditions as well as a copy of your lab reports. Keep the following details up to date:

• all medical conditions and date of diagnosis (for example, “diabetes [August 2010], stroke [September 2016]”)

• all vaccinations (including name of the vaccine, date administered)

• current medications, doses and time of day you take them (including prescription and non-prescription drugs such as low-dose aspirin, pain medications, and vitamins)

• former medications—and when and why you stopped taking them (for example, “[Name of old drug] stopped in March 2016 after a stroke and replaced with [name of new drug]”). This is important as some medications should be restarted or reassessed once an acute complication has cleared up.

• blood pressure readings, if recommended by your healthcare provider

• lab results (including A1C, which indicates your blood sugar control over the previous three months; cholesterol levels; and kidney function tests, which should be collected using both blood and urine tests)

• names and contact information of all the members of your healthcare team (family doctor or nurse practitioner, endocrinologist, diabetes educator, cardiologist, pharmacist, and any others), and the date you last saw each of them

How long should I keep my information? How often should I update it?

Talk to your healthcare team about what information you can file and what you should consider current. Update information by adding chronic conditions as they are diagnosed, while keeping track of acute complications, including the dates you experience any infections, and the name and dose and duration of antibiotic used to treat the infection.

How do I organize my medical documents?

Ideally, you should have all your current information with you at every appointment. Some people find it helpful to keep a copy of everything in a binder, or use a website or an app, so they can easily find any details they need when someone asks a question.

How can my pharmacist help me?

Ask about booking an annual medication review. At this appointment, you will discuss your lab results as well as your medications and how they relate to your diabetes and any other medical conditions. In some provinces, pharmacists can bill the government for this review, so there is no cost to you. Either way, it is a worthwhile investment in your health.

Did you know?

2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. Today, more Canadians have diabetes than ever before. Diabetes or prediabetes affects 1 in 3 Canadians. One in 2 young adults will develop diabetes in their remaining lifetime. We can’t wait another 100 years to End Diabetes. #LetsEndDiabetes Visit 100 Years of Insulin to learn more, including how you can support those living with or at risk for the disease.

This article appeared in Diabetes Dialogue, Spring 2018.

Author: Alexis Campbell

Category Tags: Healthy Living;

Region: National

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