DAVID LANSKY, PH.D.: A lot of Americans believe that the emergency rooms are able to look up your medical records in a crisis when they need to. And in fact, they can't. Almost never can they do that. So if you don't have some emergency information about you in your pocket, or perhaps on a Web site and know how to reach it, they're not going to know much about you.
ANNOUNCER: Most people receive care from many doctors in different places over time… another reason a personal medical record is a good idea.
CAROLYN CLANCY, M.D.: It turns out that Americans are pretty mobile people. They move, they change jobs, they change insurers, and they end up having to change doctors.
DAVID LANKSY, M.D.: If you move and you want to share your previous information with a new doctor or a new provider, you pretty much have to bring it with you or contact all of your previous doctors and have them individually send your information along.
ANNOUNCER: The first step in compiling a complete personal medical record is knowing what kind of information to include. The basics are: insurance information, lab results, the names and phone numbers of doctors, and details of injuries, iIlnesses, surgeries, allergies, and treatments.
DAVID LANSKY, PH.D.: Going back to things that you remember as major health events are certainly worth doing, or if you've been having a chronic illness managed over time, you'd like to go back to that. At minimum, just compiling where you got the care, which doctors provided the care, could be important.