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Keeping Track of Bipolar Medical Records

Keeping detailed medical records is important for people with bipolar disorder. Use these strategies to help yourself get organized.

By Dennis Thompson Jr.

Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH

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Organized medical records can be a lifesaver for people with bipolar disorder. These health records can help you keep track of your illness, and zero in on what works and what doesn't. They can provide continuity in your treatment, which is especially helpful if you have several doctors. And, most importantly, they can provide the bipolar patient with a sense of order for a disease that can bounce you about like a dinghy on the high seas.

"Keeping good personal records is one way you can take a more active role and contribute to your own treatment," says Michael Thase, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia.

Why Keep Health Records?

People with bipolar disorder have many good reasons to keep detailed, up-to-date medical records:

  • Disease complexity.Bipolar disorder is a complex illness, and keeping track of its twists and turns can help keep you healthy. For example, your health records should contain a record of your bipolar medications and how well each one worked. "The stormier your illness, the more changes in medication there have been and the harder it is to keep all of that straight," Dr. Thase says. "When you've had six or seven medicines over a period of time, it's hard to remember which did what."
  • Memory challenges.Bipolar disorder can play havoc with your memory. Your health records give you a visual overview of treatments you may have forgotten about or are unable to remember due to your illness.
  • Insurance aid.Good records can be crucial to receiving disability benefits and filing successful insurance claims for your treatment. "The more information that you can provide in that somewhat adversarial process, the better your chances," Thase says.

How to Organize Health Records

You might consider buying a three-ring binder to store your medical records; that way, you can keep copies of all paper records from all physicians you see. Alternatively, you might rather keep everything filed on your computer.

Whatever method you choose, your health records should include:

  • A summary of your family’s medical history.Include any information that might aid in your treatment, including family members with substance abuse issues or history or who have been diagnosed with a mood disorder or other mental illness. Also consider including family members who have committed suicide or regularly engage in violent or reckless behavior.
  • A record of each doctor visit.Include any questions you brought with you to the visit, any notes you took during the visit, and a summary of the visit's outcome. Also keep any written notes or recommendations provided by your doctor.
  • Results of lab tests.Be sure to file as much documentation regarding these tests as you can get.
  • A medication history.List all the bipolar drugs you have taken, along with the dates, the dosages, and the success or failure of the treatment.
  • A mood diary.Bipolar patients should keep a mood diary. Includes notes about your mood throughout the day, the hours of sleep you've gotten, the medications you've taken, and any unusual behavior or events.
  • Records of any other major health problems you have had in the past.These problems may be related to your bipolar disorder. Women should include any history of childbirth.

Keeping good records of your illness and its care may seem like busywork, but it’s a smart idea. The time will come when you need those records, and you’ll be glad to have them already pulled together.






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Date: 04.12.2018, 06:27 / Views: 65175