Tips for Keeping Good Medical Records

When a newborn arrives, keeping records is part of the excitement for the new parent. Many parents log their child's first smile, first words and first steps. But life becomes more hectic, and that baby record book can get buried under those magazines you keep intending to read.

Before you discard it as just another chore, learn which records can save you time if kept up to date and, in some cases, influence your child's health and treatment.

Glenn Cheng, M.D., a St. Louis Children's Hospital pediatrician, advises parents to keep updating that newborn booklet they receive from their pediatrician with immunization dates, height and weight histories, major illnesses and hospitalizations, and drug allergies or adverse reactions.

"In most cases, parents don't need to duplicate the medical records their pediatrician keeps. But having that fundamental information at your fingertips can be timesaving and could impact a child's health," Dr. Cheng says.

Keeping these records is especially important in today's mobile society, where a child is unlikely to grow up with the same physician. As you move from one doctor to another, it is handy to have immunization records for a quick reference. This way, back-to-school physical examinations will go smoother, and the child won't receive shots he may not need.

By keeping good records of a child's growth, parents and their doctors can better gauge what dose of medication is appropriate. Height and weight records are also good indicators for how the child is progressing compared to other children in his age group.

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