Reconstructing health histories will be difficult but vital for many hurricane survivors, says Richard Baron, MD, a Philadelphia physician who has campaigned for the computerization of medical records.

Up-to-date information is particularly important for people who suffer from chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

To recover your health files—or protect your health information:

  • Obtain prescription records from your pharmacy. They will probably be computerized and show your health problems and medications.
  • Ask for copies of your health insurance claims, whether you filed through private insurance or government programs, such as Medicaid or Medicare. They will list illnesses and treatments.
  • A thorough physical examination can help you rebuild records from scratch.

Remember: As a patient, your files belong to you. Not only can you review your records, you can also keep copies of them.