Rants Travel Health

Medical documents for your trip

I made a post over at www.MatadorTravel.com about important documents that travelers should carry with them and was just asked to re-post that item overe here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/18789396@N00/144251306/When I am getting ready for a trip and have finally made it to the packing stage, I am usually very, very excited!  My packing routine usually consists of a few beers, some Bob Marley and most all of my personal belongings spread out like a “yard sale”, all over my bed.  I even have packing lists, checking off important items such as electricity converters, passport, batteries, phone charger, etc.  Some things I forget to bring, such as when I was recently in Washington, DC and had to find a black belt to match my clothes for an unexpected invitation to a formal and important business dinner, in about 30 minutes.  Some things should never be forgotten and those are documents and records related to your personal health and medical care.

In my job, I see a lot of sick people.  Having access to their medical records and history are very important and help speed up the process of seeking medical care.  I wanted to make a list of things travelers should carry with them, related to their medical history and conditions…


This should include the medication names, doses and frequency you take them.  Also, a copy of your prescription should be included, in case you lose your supply and need to arrange for more.  A translation of tis list into the local language might also be a good idea.  Don’t forget to include any herbal, over-the-counter or suppliments you may be taking.


This is important, especially if you are traveling in areas know for diseases such as Yellow Fever or participating in a special event that has requirements, such as Hajj.  The World Health Organization offers a card for recording immunizations and is required for documentation of a yellow fever vaccine.


This can be particularly helpful in providing history about yourself, in a quick and easy manner.  List all your medical conditions, including basics such as allergies and prior surgery.  To make it even better, consider adding a note about your history with the illness, such as frequency of hospitalizations, treatments and severity.  Again, this would be a good thing to translate into the local language.


Patients with a history of cardiac problems should carry a copy of their latest EKG with them.  Comparision of one EKG to another is a vital tool in helping diagnose chest pain, and if you find youself hospitalized in a far-away-land, you’ll be very glad you have this.


Don’t forget to bring your medical insurance card, from home.  If you purchased medical insurance for your trip, bring your policy card and a list of contact information for your provider.


Taking the time to write down your personal doctor’s name, location and contact information can be very helpful, especially when trying to get medication refills or medical records. 


One other nice trick that I have used in the past is to scan these documents and email them, to yourself.  This allows you to have a paper copy, in your bag and a e-copy that can be printed out from virtually any internet site on the planet.  This can be very useful if you lose your originals.

Paking for your trip should be a fun experience and I actually enjoy packing, for the most part.  Next time your are getting ready to go and making sure your iPOD charger is packed, take a second to think about getting together a few papers about your personal health.  Keep these with your passport and hopefully, shred them when you get home, because you never needed them!

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