If you are relocating, one of the issues that you may face is a fragmented medical history. I don’t mean that you are missing out on care, but you will almost certainly have medical notes from a lot of care providers, some of whom may not even be in the same country. So, to make sure that you receive the best possible treatment, here are a few guidelines for making the medical profession’s life a little easier.
- Have a comprehensive medical examination for all family members
- Request a copy of the full medical records for each family member, and make both electronic and paper copies.
- Make a list of the complete contact details for all your current care providers and email them to yourself.
- Check the current health recommendations for your destination, including immunizations and any medications that may be necessary.
- Check school immunization requirements, if applicable.
- Schedule immunizations and order medications as necessary.
- Request extra prescriptions for necessary regular medication
First and foremost, you need to be sure that you are fighting fit and ready to travel before you go any further down this road, so get a full health check from your existing doctor, who is familiar with you and your health. Get this done as soon as you know you are relocating – the results may influence any decisions you make. You will be under considerable stress in the months ahead, and the last thing you need is to be dealing with illness or medical treatment.
Once you have been given a clean bill of health, request a full copy of your medical records. You are legally entitled to a copy in most countries, but even where this is not the case, most medical service providers will gladly give you copies to take with you, if only to avoid costly international fax charges at a later date.. They usually take a few weeks to be produced, so allow plenty of time to receive them, and then make copies – a master copy to keep in your files, and ones for your future care providers. Make a note of the due dates for routine screening tests, and request additional prescriptions for any medication that you take regularly.
If you have a scanner, also make electronic copies and either keep them on a flash drive, or even better, save them onto a hosted database such as www.dropbox.com or www.evernote.com. Both have free basic membership, and you can access your notes from any device with an internet connection using a login name and password. If you are not great at filing, evernote has both text recognition and a search feature, which makes finding the relevant document simple. It makes your chance of effective care a thousand times better when doctors can get hold of immediate, up to date records, and also allows you to move more freely between providers as you go. It also is essential that you review your records to ensure accuracy – a member of my family was mistakenly listed as having missing an external body part (I’ll leave you to guess which bit), which in itself was not life and death, but would have made identification difficult in the event of an accident or emergency surgery. Hmmm..
Next, check the immunization requirements for any state or country that you are moving to. If you are moving internationally, especially to tropical locations, this seems self evident, but the same rules apply when moving to different western countries or even states, especially within the US. Both the US and the UK government websites are a good place to start, but also check with your own doctor and HR department for specific information. There are less requirements for adults, but for children to be admitted to school, evidence of vaccination / immunization history is routinely required.
Details of requirements can usually be found on the school district website, or by contacting the school directly, and it is far easier to get the necessary vaccinations and certificates before you move than when you are trying to juggle all the other relocation chaos. And, of course, get a copy of the immunization records before you leave – it will be one of the first things you are asked to produce when you turn up to enroll your little darlings in school, preschool or nursery.. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!