Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Blue Book

Of my four children, only one was born in Poland--two-and-one-half-year-old C. When she was born, she was issued a blue-covered booklet titled Książeczka Zdrowia Dziecka or "Booklet of the Child's Health."

Inside, the details of her birth were recorded including Apgar scores, weight and measurements, and even my blood type. Later, when she was transferred to a neo-natal hospital, the tests she was given were recorded along with her results. The booklet belongs to the child (so it states inside the front cover), and whenever the child has well-baby check-ups or vaccinations, the doctor will update the booklet (if you remember to bring it to the appointment). There are growth charts inside, and a check-list of physical and mental milestones for the first couple of years that the parent can update to have a record of when the child begins to sit or crawl, when the first tooth appears, and so on.

If the child is hospitalized at any time, the booklet includes the details of that treatment. There are pages to make notes of home visits from the doctor, eye exams, and dental check-ups. There are pages showing specific tests (sometimes psychological ones!) that are supposed to be made at age four, age six, age eleven, and so on. In short, all records of the child's healthcare are contained in this one booklet (if you keep it current), and it belongs to the family, not any doctor or hospital.

There are a lot of things I don't like about the healthcare system here in Poland, but this is one thing I do appreciate. I experienced the same thing when I was expecting C. When I had blood work done, the results were given to me. My doctor wanted me to bring them and show them to her, of course, but I kept them. When we've had x-rays done, either dental or otherwise, the prints were given to us to keep. No doctor's office retains any of these things--they always belong to the individual, and it is the responsibility of the individual to keep them and produce them when they are relevant. (I've got the results somewhere of an EKG I had this summer.)

Whenever we pay a visit to a doctor's or dentist's office, I always see patients waiting with their blue books in hand, or thick folders with their health records. When C. was released from the hospital, they did not write in her book (the old method), but they did issue us a computer printout with details of all the treatment she had received (including tests and their results), the length of her stay, and their recommendations for continued treatment. We are supposed to keep this paper with her booklet, of course.

So far as I know, none of this is required. If you don't have all the exams listed in the book, or you don't keep records, or paste in pictures at the ages indicated (ages 1, 7, and 14), you aren't going to be in any trouble. I don't think. For us, at least, it's just a way of keeping medical records in one place and we're not obligated either to be up to date with the book or show it to anyone. It is possible that children under the state healthcare system may be required to use these books, but I'm just speculating. I really think the book is for the parents and child, and it is an effort to provide a guideline for healthcare, as well as a place to record vaccinations, allergies, diseases, test results (hearing and eye exams, for example), and so on. Maybe it's too bad that C. is the only one who has one!


At 9:53 AM , Blogger Lady Liberty said...

They have the same here in Germany along with a mother pass for when you are pregnent. So my last two pregnancies are in the book. The only problem was when I went to the hospital to have the second one, they keep asking me question that were in the book. I'm thinking, I am in labor you are asking me all these thing I can't remember. Look it up in the book.

At 6:11 PM , Blogger Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

I've never heard of this! How interesting! I really like the idea of being in organizational control of my own medical records.


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