Tests, hospital stays, and letters from consultants
Although copies of tests—from your newborn’s screening to hearing tests— will be in your child’s medical chart, pediatricians themselves may not be able to access such information right away. “It’s often very hard even for doctors to read other doctors’ handwriting, plus it can be very difficult to sift through all the paper in a medical chart and find out if a test was done,” says Contini.
If you need to know whether your child has ever been tested for X or Y, keeping a simple list of those tests and their results can help expedite answers for your doctor, as will recording any stays in the hospital (and for what reason and for how long).
Request your own copies of letters from any specialists or consultants and keep them on file. You can’t assume doctors are always communicating with each other, but if you have copies of their reports, you’ll always be able to provide them if needed later.
Most states have an official immunization card you’ll bring to the pediatrician’s office for updating every time your baby receives an injection. “You’re going to need this information once you register your child for school,” says Jennifer Shu, M.D., co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2005).
Keep the card in a safe place. Even though some practices now keep computer files of immunization records, some offices will charge you $5 to $15 to make a copy of a lost card, just because of the time it takes. Parents of adopted children should try to get information about any vaccinations their baby may have already received, particularly if their child was born abroad.