Why we keep a copy of medical records- and you should, too!


One of the dreaded requirements of being a caregiver is keeping up with medical records.

Before I became my husband’s and son’s full-time caregiver, I didn’t do much with medical records. I knew our doctor’s took notes, placed them in a file and forwarded them to specialists if they needed to. I was completely aware of the fact that we have the right to access these records, but wasn’t really worried about it.

Until we had to navigate the VA!

medical records, VA, doctor, medicine, caregiver, patient

Medical records, correct, objective and VA are words that aren’t always compatible.

With Elijah, things have been far easier.

I go to his PCP, tell them I want a copy of his medical records for personal use, fill out a release form and pay the Office fee. If I was lucky, the office also used digital medical records and we were able to get electronic records. Within 24-72 hours, we would have a complete copy of Elijah’s records; or whatever section we requested.

Now, everyone uses digitized records and we’ve been fortunate enough to have access to patient portals. These patients portals are amazing!

We’ve been able to schedule appointments, message PCPs, ask questions and have access to visit summaries.

The VA?

That’s been an entirely different story.

When my husband first enrolled into the VA system, they were still using paper copies for medical records. So needless to say, things got lost ALL THE TIME! Being an Army Brat, something told me to make copies of  everything before we send it off to the VA.

Records were lost or just simply never made it into my husband’s file. This is particularly frustrating when you’re trying to get your husband enrolled into the VA system and apply for disability.

Service-connected conditions determine EVERYTHING at the VA. But in order to get the benefits he was promised, he has to show “proof” that he has these condition. How do you show that?

Medical records!

Later on, my husband needed records to apply for Social Security. He was denied the first time around, because the VA didn’t send all the records that were requested by the courts. We’re still fighting the good fight with Social Security and don’t intent on giving up just yet.

It is your loved one’s RIGHT to have access to his/her medical records. The VA acknowledges this same right; and now it is far easier to access your vet’s medical records through My Healthy Vet.  Check out this list of Resources for Veterans

Reasons we keep a copy of my husband’s medical records:
  • It makes things easier when the VA ‘forgets’ to add pages to your medical records
    • Not so much a problem for us now anymore, since they are all electronic; but we’ve heard of other veterans not having theirs uploaded to the system yet.
  • It makes things A LOT more convenient when using Fee Basis or the Choice Card.
    • When the VA gives authorization for outside care, they also send relevant medical records to the provider. But this may also mean that some things may be left out on accident. That one, accidentally forgotten page, may have your veteran’s medication allergy listed. 
  • You won’t have to rely on the VA to provide the correct AND complete information
    • I’m sure you may have noticed by now that the VA (as a whole) isn’t always the most reliable entity. Things get lost and amended all the time. 
  • If you are applying for other benefits, I highly recommend you have a copy of medical records, provider and medication information
  • Peace of mind
    • It is frustrating and just plain sad, sometimes, to say that we have to make sure the people who get paid to do their jobs correctly are doing so. The burden seems to be placed on the veterans and their caregivers.
This does not just apply to veterans and their caregivers!

I focused on the VA as the basis for this post, but I believe keeping copies of medical records, medication and provider information is generally important.

Do you keep a copy of your family’s medical records?

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Disclaimer: Everything I share is solely based on my personal experience and is for informational purposes only. This post includes affiliate links. For more information, please view my disclosure policy.


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