Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Doctor Visit: Medication History

Sometimes it is just as well to start over with new doctors without going into past history, especially when the past history is based on misdiagnoses. But when we are still in the initial process of searching for answers to complex medical mysteries, knowledge of what has been tried, what worked, and what did not, may add some clarity to a still-murky picture.

It is important to have all the information ready for a new medical consult, and to hand deliver it personally into the doctor’s hands (see The Doctor Went Dumpster-Diving).

In addition to a letter from the referring doctor (if applicable), you need the medical history, pertinent laboratory results (We bring a “lab flow sheet” with years of test results).

Of course, you always need to take a list of current medications and food supplements to all doctor appointments—not just to new visits. But new doctors additionally need to know why the child is taking what he/she is taking.

So, I added a column to the list saying the diagnosis or condition for which the child is taking the medication.

But I soon realized that what I really needed was 3 different things.

* One was the usual brief list of medications and food supplements which every doctor’s office inputs into the computer and puts into the patient folder for quick look-up.

* The next item was a more comprehensive list of the current medications and food supplements, when the child began taking each, and why—what each does for him/her, if anything—and what noticeable side-effects the child has from the medication.

The list of current medications can look something like this:

* But I also realized that an equally important companion to the medical history (see Here- New Doctor Visit: The Medical History ), is a medication history.

This is similar to the “current medications” above, and, indeed contains the current medications, but it lists all the medications tried (past and current) and their outcomes.

Medications that did NOT work or that partially worked can be as important as the medications the child is on now.

I list the ages that the child took the medication/supplement, positive results if any, and negative results and/or reason for discontinuation.

Here is an example of the medication history:

Of course, the medication history can be pages long.

I find it very “telling” how a new doctor reacts to being presented with pages of medical, symptom, and medication histories.

Some are grateful and read it before the next appointment. Some act disdainful and just want the 1 paragraph “history” the nurse wrote up or the page you filled out in the waiting room.

One alarming new trend among some doctors--especially those on HMO's and insurance preferred provider lists-- even limit you to telling only ONE or at the most, TWO symptoms per visit.

I will say, though, the only types of doctors who made headway into solving my kids' medical mysteries were the ones that took their history THEMSELVES, read the information we brought, asked questions, listened, and asked more questions. They cared about past symptoms, and about other family members and their histories as well.

Like I said, the new doctor’s reaction is very telling.

More about this topic can be found in: It's not Mental - The Book

Related Reading:

Having trouble figuring out where to start, let alone a specialist to start with? Click here for list of resources: Helpful resources -- websites, articles, books, organizations, products

Property of
Last Updated: 20 April 2011

1 comment:

Susan said...

Great post Jeanie with helpful medication history info. I have found it helpful to have the names and phone numbers of your doctors, clinics and pharmacies in a handy spot for quick and easy reference. Communication really is key to better care.