Checklist for Assembling Health Information After a Disaster

September 19, 2005

The following information is provided by the American Health Information Management Association in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

When people are displaced by disasters, it can be difficult to begin or resume medical care without healthcare information normally available from your provider’s office. For individuals who are attempting to recover their health information, AHIMA suggests the following actions:

  • If you have access to the Internet, take advantage of the free resources at, a site that offers guidance to understanding and managing your personal health information. Forms for both adults and children are located at forms.asp. Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer the "Keep It With You: Personal Medical Information Form" which serves as a voluntary, temporary record that lists medical care and other health information for people who need care during disasters. If you do not have access to the Internet, call your local health department for assistance.
  • Call your healthcare providers to see if they are in business or have left contact information. If you can contact them, find out the status of your medical records. Ask them if they have kept back-up copies of medical records, lab reports, X-rays, pharmacy, or bills that would be helpful to you.
  • Contact your insurance company. It is very likely they can provide documents used in billing (for example, the explanation of benefits statement) to help rebuild your medical record. If you use Medicare, contact the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services online or call  1-800-MEDICARE.
  • Contact your pharmacy. Many national chains keep records of your prescriptions and can verify names and dosages for you and your healthcare provider, even if you are in a different location.
  • Contact your state Department of Health for information contained in Medicaid program information, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program information, or registries such as communicable disease, immunizations, and birth certificates. Telephone numbers for state departments of health can be found at
  • Contact any healthcare providers you have seen on a referral basis (such as home healthcare providers, specialists, surgeons, etc.). They should have information sent to them by your referring healthcare provider.
  • If you have children, your school district may be able to provide information from the school nurse about your child. If your child has attended college, contact the college for any health information on file.
  • Ask your family to help you remember your medical history as you write it down.

You can reach the following health departments at:

Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals
1201 Capitol Access Rd.
P.O. Box 629
Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0629

Alabama Department of Public Health
201 Monroe St.
Montgomery, AL 36104
Phone: (334) 206-5300

Mississippi Department of Health
570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr.
Jackson, MS 39216
(601) 576-7400 (8 a.m.-5 p.m.)
(866) 458-4948 (24-hour information)

Source: AHIMA Professional Practice Teams (September 2005)