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Why it is Important for Doctors to Know Your Medical History?

September 2, 2019

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One of the best ways you can stay healthy and strong is by providing the details of your medical history to your physician. When you help them understand and document your medical history, it is easier for them to provide you with the most appropriate and effective treatment as well as suitable care for your illnesses and health conditions so that you can achieve and maintain the best possible health.

Your medical history consists of several different pieces of information that summarise the complete story about your current and past health. An individual’s complete medical history record typically includes following information on the person’s:

  1. Diagnosis – for any and all previous health conditions.
  2. Known allergies – any and all allergies, such as to any drugs or chemical compounds, foods, that you may have.
  3. Current medications – the names and doses of your current medications.
  4. Past and present illnesses – details of any past and current chronic illnesses.
  5. Medication history – a list of previous medications with their duration- start and end dates.
  6. Previous surgeries and hospitalisations – details of any previous surgeries a well as dates and reasons for any previous hospital admissions.
  7. Family medical history – details of any health condition diagnosed among your family members.
  8. Records of immunisation– details of your previous immunisations along with the dates they were received.
  9. Details of insurance– all the applicable health insurance policy details.
  10. Current physician– details of all your current healthcare providers, including physicians, dentists, and any other healthcare professionals.
  11. Emergency contact information – contact details of the person to be reached out, in case of an emergency.

Not only your physician, but knowing your own medical history allows you to take steps to reduce certain health risks. Collecting your medical history can help your physician to predict risks for any hereditary diseases, such as diabetes, heart diseases, or certain types of cancers that are genetically inherited. For instance, physicians may recommend more frequent screenings early on for people at an increased risk of certain cancers. Moreover, conditions like hypertension (blood pressure related disorders), stroke, cholesterol, asthma, among others can also have hereditary link in the family. Therefore, it’s important to mention these in your medical/family history.

Physicians, based on your medical history, may also ask for regular check-ups for a particular medical condition that runs in your family. Additionally, based on your medical history, it is easier for physicians to suggest you lifestyle changes including a healthier diet, regular exercise, and quitting smoking and/or alcohol to lower your chances of developing heart disease and other common lifestyle disorders. Moreover, knowing your previous and current medications can help your physician keep a track of the same. It can also help them be alerted on any allergies and then prescribe you the appropriate medications that you are not allergic to.

Furthermore, a disease occurring at an early age, diseases in more than one family member, diseases not normally affecting a certain gender (e.g. breast cancer in male) need to be updated in the family history as it holds significant importance to predict the risk you may have to get that disease. You cannot change your genes, but by updating your family medical history, you can certainly help your doctors to predict your risks of getting a certain disease.

In addition, your medical history isn’t just beneficial for you but for your family members as well, since it can be used to alert them of their predisposition to getting certain diseases. It is important to know about your family history, as this information may prove vital for generations to come. Furthermore, in case of any emergencies, it is the most useful tool that can save yours and your physician’s time in getting you the suitable treatment without wasting any time. During the limited time in an emergency, your medical information could mean the difference between life and death. Or, in less serious situations, it could save everyone’s time searching for relevant facts like medications or allergies.