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As a special needs mom, you know medical paperwork can get out of control quickly. There are so many different medical binders and ways to do it, it can be information overload. Creating a medical binder for your special needs child can lift a weight off your shoulders because you know everything is in one place.
When you need to find something, you don’t have to search high and low for it. You just go to the bookcase and pull out the medical binder, flip some pages, and find your answer.
We will discuss:
- the importance of having a medical binder
- why people struggle with their binder
- paper vs. electronic
- types of binders to have
- how to organize and create a medical binder
- how to maintain a medical binder
The Importance of Having a Medical Binder
You have all of your child’s information in one place. This is so important especially when your child has up to a dozen doctors.
It helps you stay on top of your child’s medical conditions. You don’t have to call and figure out when their last MRI was or when the last time they had high blood sugar. You just go to the binder and look.
When you write down doctor’s notes in your binder, you have a higher probability of retaining the information. Studies that show handwriting can increase your retention and improve your brainpower.
If you do forget, the information is right there and you can have an answer in seconds.
You have their whole medical history at your fingertips.
Why people struggle with a medical binder
- They are unorganized.
- They will “do it later”.
- They don’t take notes at the appointment and expect to remember it when they get home.
- They are a perfectionist and don’t try because it will never be perfect.
- They have information overload and don’t know where to start.
Paper vs. Electronic
Paper wins hands down for me. You have it all in one place and you don’t have to search a bunch of folders on your computer or iPad to find the information you need. You can just look at your table of contents and find the information you need to quickly.
Types of Binders I Have
1. Medical History
2. Misc Binder- which includes: equipment forms, flyers I pickup from doctor’s offices, therapy centers, etc. things I might find useful, and therapy information.
3. Medical Bills Binder
- Medical paperwork from your child in one pile
- 3-4″ heavy-duty binder in your favorite color– Heavy duty costs more, but you will be using this a lot and don’t want to skimp on the quality and you don’t want the papers falling out because of cheap rings. Go ahead and get it in your favorite color because you want it to be nice to look at.
- Numbered Divider Tabs
- Joyfully Unexpected Medical Binder printouts (available in FREE resource library)
- Sheet protectors
- Business Card Sheet Protectors
How to create and organize your binder
1. Gather all of your child’s medical history paperwork into a pile and all the supplies mentioned above. This is ONLY the medical history, we will organize the therapy and equipment stuff separately.
2. Organize your child’s medical paperwork by specialty. For example pediatrician, orthodontist, endocrinologist, neurologist, etc. Don’t organize it by doctor, because you might not see the same pediatrician every time you go to the office.
3. Get your organized piles and put them in alphabetical order. This is will make the next step easier.
4. Make a list of the list of specialists and procedures/levels/symptoms, etc. that your child regularly has. Examples of procedures/levels: surgeries, growth measurements, x-rays, MRIs, CT Scans
5. Create a simple table of contents in a Word doc using a number and then the specialist category. (Google Docs/Notepad/Wordpad, etc. is free if you don’t have Microsoft Word)
Table of Contents
**Don’t forget to add a tab for each type of procedure/test and a tab for medical contacts. I prefer to put the procedures/tests and contacts at the back and the specialists in the front.
I also prefer a table of contents and numbered dividers so it is easier to edit. I just rearrange the dividers and update the table of contents when there is a change.
6. Start putting your paperwork into the binder.
Here is how mine is laid out
- Table of Contents in Sheet Protector
- Numbered Tabs by Specialists
- Numbered Tabs for procedures, tests, levels, etc.
- Medical Contacts with Business Card Protectors
Tips for Success:
- Put papers you are going to use a lot in sheet protectors.
- I am constantly updating our medical binder. I make notes after each doctor’s appointments and procedure and add to the book. I also add any paperwork the doctor gives me in the appointment. These papers are like one-pagers on how to do something or tips to help your child, etc.
How to maintain a medical binder
- Put updated doctor’s notes, papers, procedures lists, etc. and anything you get from the appointment as soon as you get home.
- I don’t file or keep misc things I find unuseful like directions to the appointment, discharge papers from hospital visits and surgeries (I keep them on my kitchen counter and throw them out a few days later), etc.
- Clean out only when your binder is too full. After that, you can decide to keep some of the older stuff at home in an “older” medical binder or get a bigger binder. I try to keep a 3-4” binder, because anything larger than that, and I don’t want to carry it around the hospital and it defeats the purpose.
Medical Bills Binder- see this post to figure out how I organize medical bills in a binder.
Misc. Binder- I set this one up the same way I do the medical history binder. Table of Contents, Numbered Divider Tabs, papers, etc. I keep all of the therapy, equipment, misc flyers, and things in this binder. I purge it about once a year or so and throw out any materials I don’t want anymore or papers for any equipment we no longer have.
Organizing your medical binder and setting it up for the first time can be a time commitment, but it is worth it! You will be able to see your child’s medical information all in one place and won’t have to dig in drawers to find it.
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