Organized Medical Files

I recently realized that there is one area in my paper filing system that needed some attention… medical records. While, thankfully, I’m not accessing my medical files too often I did notice that when I actually needed to reference something from my daughter’s (and my own) medical history it was pretty difficult.

Many of the areas of the home that I personally enjoy organizing are not only for the now, but for the future. Having organized medical records from birth to adulthood is not only interesting but can prove to be extremely helpful down the line.


The Before:

I had, in the last year or so, updated my filing system to break out medical records into several folders (i.e. Medical, Dental, etc) in hopes that it would make both the filing and retrieval process easier. It did make it a little easier but not enough and it didn’t make me feel comfortable that I was setting up an effective filing system for the future. Immunization records were not filed separately and got pushed back in the “Medical” file and specialist appointment records were missing and/or mixed in with handouts from our pediatrician.

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The Planning:

I realized that I was missing the key points of keeping medical records and decided that I should have a more thoughtful organizational system. I came up with the following broad goals for retaining and organizing medical files to keep me focused during my project:

What do organized medical files look like?:

  • A snapshot of your current health
  • A summary of your significant health issues over the years
  • A handy resource when planning a visit to the doctor
  • And/or a handy resource to take along to a doctor’s appointment

While my files looked organized they accomplished none of these goals. So, I decided to create a medical binder for my daughter and myself (my husband prefers his own filing methods). I felt like the binder would more easily accommodate what I wanted my files to look like, holding different types of information I wanted to keep separate but together in one place. I first took out all the documents from the existing file folders and made stacks on the floor of different areas of interest with stickies on top to keep track of the categories. I came up with the following sections for our medical binders (these can/should vary to whatever fits your needs & your preference for medical documentation retention):

Medical Binder Sections:

  1. Medical Contacts & Family History: This section is helpful for use at new patient appointments, among other things.
  2. Immunizations, Labs & Exams: I further separated this section out by “Immunizations”, “Physicals”, and “Vision” tabs with room to grow. The “Physicals” tab is where you can keep baby and toddler year stats and percentages for weight and height as well as copies of the latest medical release or physicals for school.
  3. Medical Conditions: This is where you can lump together paperwork on certain chronic conditions, surgeries, etc. I used clear sheet protectors and labels to keep relevant data together and organized by type of medical condition.
  4. Dental Procedures: Again, clear sheet protectors can be used to lump information together about procedures such as fillings, braces, etc.
  5. Medical Literature: This can include information given to you from your doctor, internet research, handwritten notes… anything you want to quickly reference in the future.

{Note} I recommend bills and insurance medical claims be filed separately. Creating monthly folders (folders from January to December) are great for these types of documents if you have the space. You can create two years worth, odd year and even year folders (24 in total), so you save these types of documents along with other bills and miscellaneous receipts for 2 years only. This is a self-purging system which 1) keeps your filing cabinets from overflowing and taking the time to purge later and 2) allows you to find more important documents easier since your files aren’t cluttered with documents that you probably won’t ever need or want to reference again. Typically you will be able to remember back to what month is in question if you do, in fact, want to reference a receipt or bill. The few extra seconds finding the document now is much less time than reviewing all your files later and purging which can take many hours.

I then printed labels, created & filled out the contact sheets and medical history forms {with the help of my mama and mother-in-law, thank you!}, and then started assembling the binder.


The After:

Here is a look at the what the divider tabs look like. This particular binder, which can be found at Target, included the tabs and printable labels.

Medical Binder Tabs

A contact sheet with doctor’s information, family contacts, insurance information and allergies is not only handy for the binder but can be printed and sent with your child’s bag when they are away from home overnight. I made my contact sheet double sided, one side for medical and one just family contacts.

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And the family history form I created will undoubtedly come in handy when filling out those requests for family history on lengthy new patient forms. It is also nice to just have all this interesting medical history in one place.

Here is a look at some of my subcategories. These simple dividers were about a dollar at Target and I used the extra binder labels on them.

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I used some round kraft Avery labels I had on hand to create categories for conditions, procedures, etc. This is my favorite element; it’s a very visual review of one’s own medical history:

Here are some of my medical literature categories.

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And lastly, here is what my final project looks like on my office bookshelves. I resisted getting trendy patterned binders since I would be tempted to change them out later once I got tired of them.

My hope is that these binders will find themselves being used much more frequently than I used our files, and with much less hassle. And I’m pleased that my daughter will have all her medical history in once place which she can take with her one day… a day which will hopefully feel like many, many years from now!

Please don’t forget that there is no one-fits-all approach to organizing. As long as you feel like your system is working effectively for you, that is what matters. Medical files can be filed traditionally, filed electronically or in binders, whatever!

{Note} A great alternative to making a medical binder is scanning in your documents to then easily organize your files digitally on your computer. I’m not ready for completely digital records, particularly medical records, but it could be an efficient and effective system for some!

Free Printable:

Why duplicate efforts?! I’m including a FREE customizeable Family Medical History Word document for your own personal use here:

Medical History – FREE DOC

Comment below if you plan on using this doc or any of the tips I’ve shared in this post. And here’s to good health!

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