The Importance of Giving an Accurate Medical History
Our medical histories tell doctors a great deal about us, our families, and our medical future. Medical histories let doctors know the types of medications patients can take, which conditions they have or might develop, and how to treat existing health problems. In many ways, accurate histories help prevent medical mistakes. When doctors have incorrect information on patients, the consequences can be deadly.
- Medical histories are very useful for identifying potential health conditions, which can help patients avoid diagnostic errors. For example, family medical histories can identify people likely to develop heart disease, stroke and certain cancers. This information can help doctors avoid misdiagnosing patients when they may actually have more serious health conditions.
- Patients with detailed medical histories may have a higher level of care. According to the National Institutes of Health, patients who are suspected of having a high risk of developing certain health conditions are likely to receive the correct diagnostic tests. For example, people who have a high risk of developing certain types of cancers may be put on a specific diet and screened annually.
- Medical histories will have drug allergy information that can help doctors and pharmacies avoid giving patients harmful medications.
How Can Families Create Accurate Medical Histories?
To keep patients safe and give families a better understanding of their medical histories, the U.S. Surgeon General released an online tool that can help compile data. The Family Health Portrait can help families work together to develop a shared medical history using the internet. Information compiled on the website can be printed and brought to health care providers.