Keeping Copies of Important Medical Records

Managing your health care records can be complicated, especially if you’re juggling information from several different medical providers and other sources, such as pharmacies. But keeping copies of your records and knowing how to find them is an important way to improve the quality of care you receive, especially if you change doctors.

Why should I keep copies of my medical records?

At some point after your cancer treatment, you might find yourself seeing a new health care provider who doesn’t know your medical history. It’s important to be able to give your new provider the details of your diagnosis and treatment. One of the best ways to help your provider get accurate information is to give them copies of your medical records. 

It can be harder to get medical records that are more than a few years old, so it’s best if you can gather these details during your treatment, or soon after. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask your cancer care team how to go about getting these reports.

What types of records should I keep?

If you’ve been treated for cancer, there are certain pieces of information that you should have handy:

  • Copies of the pathology reports from all of your biopsies and surgeries.

  • Copies of imaging test results (CT or MRI scans, etc.), which can usually be stored digitally on a DVD, etc.

  • If you had surgery, a copy of the operative report(s).

  • If you stayed in the hospital, copies of the discharge summaries your health care provider wrote when you were sent home.

  • If you had chemotherapy or other drug treatments (such as targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or hormone therapy), a list of the drugs, their doses, and how long you took them.

  • If you had radiation therapy, a copy of your treatment summary.

  • Contact information for the health care providers who treated your cancer.

While your new provider may want copies of this information for his or her records, always keep copies for yourself as well.

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