How to Build a Medical Binder

How to build a Medical Binder

DIY Medical Binder with Free Printable Forms

As a family caregiver, you know how challenging it can be to keep track of all your loved one’s medical records, much less your own! Medical binders are a great way to stay organized and remain prepared for any situation. Simplify your life by collecting all important medical data in a portable 3-ring binder, and use our free, printable medical forms below.  

While building a medical binder may seem like a daunting task at first, remember, it doesn’t have to be completed in one sitting. Maintaining a medical binder is an ongoing process … a bit like keeping a scrapbook of memories! The important thing is to get started and continually add information. 

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Why keep medical information in a binder? 

  • Binders are portable – You might think, “I already have all this information in the filing cabinet.” The problem is you can’t take your filing cabinet with you to the hospital, an urgent care clinic, or when communicating with health care providers. You’ll enjoy peace-of-mind knowing you can quickly answer questions the intake nurses will ask, with the information in the medical binder. 
  • Binders are inexpensive – 3-ring binders are inexpensive and readily available. 
  • Binders are customizable – your care recipient’s medical history is unique. You can include any health information you feel is needed in your medical binder. 

If your care recipient’s history is simple, you can use a standard 3-ring binder. If you have more information to include, you may prefer a binder that has pockets, a handle, and even closes with a zipper.

Medical Binder Example

Click to enlarge

What to include in a Medical Binder

  • Basic health & contact information
    Your basic health information should include anything a medical institution would realistically need to identify or treat you. Information on this document is often — but not always — given to the receptionist, medical assistant, nurse, or other healthcare professional before the doctor even sees you.

    • Full name, address, phone, and date of birth
    • Emergency contact information
    • Known Allergies
    • List of chronic illnesses
    • Blood type
    • Immunizations & Shot records
      • Hepatitis (A&B), Flu (annually), Pneumococcal, Shingles, Tetanus/diphtheria (every 10 years), Chickenpox, Tuberculosis, Covid, etc. 
    • Family History (particularly parents)
  • List of physicians/care providers and their contact informationTIP: tape their business card to a piece of paper!
    • Primary care physician
    • Specialty physicians
    • Preferred pharmacy
    • Specialty pharmacies 
    • Preferred hospital (with address and phone number) 
    • Dentist
    • Therapists
  • Insurance information
    • Make a copy of current insurance cards (print and keep several copies)
    • Insurance information may include: Preferred provider organization (PPO), Health maintenance organization (HMO), Point of service (POS), Exclusive provider organization (EPO), Health savings account (HSA), supplemental Medicare plans, etc.
  • Medication list and schedulesTIP: When you pick up medication from the pharmacy, add the paperwork to your binder.
    • Who – the doctor who prescribed it
    • What – the name of the medication & the dosage
    • When – schedule or frequency
    • Where – where is the medicine kept? For example: kitchen, bedroom, bathroom.
    • Why – was the medication prescribed
    • plus any special instructions.
  • Medication Reaction Tracker
    • When a new medication is started, track the baseline symptoms the medication is trying to affect and also any reactions to the medication. It’s recommended you track this for at least two weeks. 
  • History of medical procedures
    • These may include hospitalizations, procedures, surgeries, etc.
    • Hospital discharge summaries – You may have to ask for this. These are the clinical summaries written or dictated by doctors and nurses, and are meant to be read by other health professionals. (The discharge information packet that patients are usually sent home with is a very weak, watered down version.)
  • Medical Implants and devices
    • Cardiac implants (stents, pacemakers, defibrillators)
    • Cochlear (ear) or intraocular (eye) implants
    • Artificial Joints (hips, knees)
    • Spine Screws, Rods, and Artificial Discs (Spinal Fusion Hardware)
    • Metal Screws, Pins, Plates, and Rods (Traumatic Fracture Repair)
    • Breast implants
    • Intra-uterine devices
  • Future appointments
    • Keep a calendar of annual wellness visits, scheduled dental cleanings, and other future appointments
  • Doctor Visit Summary – The goal of this form is to record PAST medical appointments and what was said or advised in that meeting. If your doctor doesn’t provide you with a summary, write down what happened at the appointment. This includes recommendations the doctor made or treatment plans. 
    • Date
    • Who 
    • Purpose of visit
    • Review of lab results
    • Recommendations
    • Next appointment date 
  • Blood Pressure Tracker – Measure blood pressure (preferably daily), so medical professions will know what is “normal” for your care recipient. 
    • Date & time recorded
    • Results
    • Any other notes that you feel may be affecting the results; for example, if your loved one has a cold or is currently recovering from a surgery. 
  • Laboratory reports, Radiology Results – consider keeping the last three reports or results for the past 1-3 years.
    • blood and urine tests: CBC, A1C, CMP, lipid panel, thyroid function, etc.
    • x-rays, CT scans, MRI, ECHO, etc.
    • Pathology Reports
    • Colonoscopy
    • Mammograms
    • Also include any diagnostic procedure reports
  • Medical wishes / Legal forms
    • Advance Directives
    • Living wills
    • Medical Power of Attorney
    • DNR (Do not resuscitate) 

Optional information to keep in a medical binder

  • Alternative Providers
    You can also include a list of potential providers in your area if your primary doctor, dentist, therapist, and so forth isn’t available. This is especially important for those who receive Medicare benefits. Keeping a running list of participating providers in your area can help you avoid having to pay large out-of-pocket costs by going to a provider who doesn’t accept your insurance.
  • Medical Expenses
    Receipts, bills, payment plan terms, and other medical expenses 
  • Wellness Information
    List any supplements taken (see medication list notes above), exercise regimes, stress-reducing activities (example: meditation), and other healthy habits..
  • Research/Other notes
    Any helpful information that you come across on the internet or other sources goes here. Also, post-surgical instructions, information about aftercare, or any other handouts can go in this section.

Putting Your Healthcare Binder Together

Organize your binder into sections using binder tabs. You can make your own, or purchase a pre-made Medical Records Organizer kit.

Medical Binder Organizer Kit

Other, optional supplies

  • Business card page
  • 3-hole calendar
  • sticky notes
  • Plastic folder sleeves and sheet protectors

Free Medical Binder Forms

Use pdf versions to print and enter information by hand. Use the Microsoft Word versions to type your information. If using the editable Microsoft Word versions, modify the documents to fit your individual needs!

Resources for Caregivers

  • Call 2-1-1 throughout Texas for information and access to health and human service information for all ages.
  • Call 800-252-9240 to find local Texas Area Agency on Aging.
  • Call 800-677-1116 – Elder Care Locator service to find help throughout the U.S.

Use resources such as Area Agency on Aging (AAA). Types of assistance provided by AAAs:

  • Information and referral
  • Caregiver education and training
  • Caregiver respite
  • Caregiver support coordination
  • Case management
  • Transportation assistance

Assistance available through AAAs for persons age 60 and older may include:

  • Benefits counseling
  • Ombudsman – advocacy for those who live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities
  • Home-delivered meals
  • Congregate meals
  • Light housekeeping

Be sure to check out our Resource DirectoryFAQ, and Educational Events Calendar for more great information! Permission is granted to duplicate any and all parts of this page to use in education programs supporting family members caring for elders. 

Sources: Paula Hill, staff writer for Family Caregivers Online;; Free Printable Medical Forms; Tools for caregivers: Keeping & Organizing Medical Information by Leslie Kernisan MD MPH
Thank you to Diedra Kinkade, Your Nurse Advocate, for inspiring this module. 

Reviewed November 2022

We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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