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Knowing Your Child's Medical History

When providing emergency care, doctors, nurses, and emergency personnel like paramedics ask many questions about a patient's . Some hospitals have electronic health records that keep all medical information about a patient in one place.

But it's still a good idea to update your family's records. Keeping your own record of your kids' health info can help a medical professional make quicker diagnoses and decisions during an emergency, when each second counts.

Who Should Have a Copy?

Keep one copy of the health record in an accessible place at home or by the phone, one in each car, one at each parent's workplace, and one in each parent's bag or wallet. Also send a copy to your kids' schools or childcare, and give one to any regular caregivers, along with the name and number of your doctor.

What Should Be in a Medical Record?

Allergies

Record on your list any known allergies your child has to medicines, both prescription and nonprescription, and any known allergic reactions to insect stings and bites and food allergies. Some kids have latex allergies. Allergy information helps medical personnel discover a cause for problems like swelling or trouble breathing.

Medicines

Some medicines can't be taken together, so paramedics need to know all medicines (prescription and nonprescription) your kids take before they can give certain drugs.

A child's symptoms also could be due to side effects of medicines, which is another reason to report everything being taken. You also need to know the doses, the dosing schedules, and when and how much of the medicines were recently taken.

Pre-existing Illnesses or Conditions

Pre-existing illnesses or conditions can have a great impact on the kinds of tests or treatments used in an emergency. If your child has any health problem — from diabetes to epilepsy to asthma — emergency medical personnel must know. For added protection, kids with long-term (chronic) conditions should wear an ID bracelet with this important information on it.

For a child with special needs, fill out the Emergency Information Form (EIF) for Children With Special Needs. As with any other health record you create, keep the form in an easily accessed place at home.

Hospitalizations and Operations

List the dates your child has been hospitalized, the reasons for hospitalization, treatments given, and the types of operations done.

Immunizations

Keep an updated record of all your kids' immunizations. If you need help remembering or compiling this, the staff at your doctor's office can help. Include information about any reactions to an immunization, such as seizures, high fever, or severe discomfort.

Height and Weight

When calculating medicine doses, it's very helpful for doctors to know a child's approximate height and weight. (Be sure to to keep this updated, as kids can grow quickly.)

It's easy to compile your child's medical history, and it could mean saving critical minutes — when they count most!

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: May 2018