When many people go to the doctor, they think that their primary care physician knows everything that is going on with them in regard to their health. However, this might not be the case.

When you go to an urgent care, the emergency room or to see a specialist, if they are not in the same health system, they will not share the same computer system. Your primary care doctor might not know about the incident or the medications you have been prescribed, or tests that have been performed.

This can result in duplicate testing, medication interactions or duplications. Many times, patients simply forget to tell their doctor about one of these visits, or they assume their doctor has it in their file, when this might not be the case.

It is very important to update your doctor on anything relating to your health since your last appointment with them. Never assume that they have received notes or test results from visits with specialists, urgent care, or hospital admissions.

It’s a good idea to create and maintain your own personal health care folder. Keep all your physician visit and discharge records and an updated medication list in a designated health folder that you can bring to all of your appointments.

If you go to an urgent care and they do an X-ray, ask for a copy of that X-ray to give to your primary care doctor or to a specialist that you might need to see for a follow-up. This will prevent having duplicate tests being performed.

You can also ask for copies of your lab results to keep in your folder so that your primary care doctor does not order the same labs to be drawn.

Another way you can keep track of testing and results is to sign up for the patient portal, if your doctor’s office or hospital has one. On the portal you can get all of your test and lab results and print them to keep them in your health folder.

You might need to sign up for several different patient portals if you see doctors in different hospital systems, as their computer systems might all be different.

Everyone should keep a health folder that contains a current medication list, list of doctors with phone numbers and specialty, all discharge records from hospitalizations or urgent care visits, and any test results or lab work. This would also be a good place to put a copy of your advanced directive.

Always bring your health folder to physician appointments, urgent care or the Emergency Room, if time permits, so that you have all this information handy in one place.

Karen Balerna RN, BSN, BCPA is a board-certified patient advocate and owner of Nurse Advocate Partners, serving Beaufort County. KBalerna@NurseAdvocatePartners.com.