Monday, June 3, 2013

Creating a Paper Trail

If there is one thing I wish every veteran and military family knew to do, it is to create a paper trail. Even when things are going well, even when it's "something small" - get in the habit of creating a paper trail.

The easiest way to create that trail is to follow these steps:

1. Create a document in your computer.  This can be 1 document per issue or 1 document to track it all.  Either way, get somewhere you can make an overview of what's going on so you have a quick glance of the actions and communications without having to dig through a wide variety of notes.  Make a note in that document of every phone call, email, and appointment you have had and a brief summary of what was discussed, what the plan for treatment is, and what to do if the plan isn't working. Always include notes of who you spoke with specifically and the date and time.

 2. Communicate via email as much as possible so you have the responses to your questions and concerns in writing direct from the person you are working with.  This is the easiest way to prevent the "he said/she said" argument.

3. Keep a notebook in your car and/or purse so you can make a note of phone calls that come in while you're on the go.  Take that notebook to every appointment and write your notes in it.  Make certain you transfer that information to your document as soon as you get home.

Now that you have a good, solid paper trail, when you need it don't be afraid to use it.  Call out obvious problems and use that paper trail to correct any "assumptions" on the part of those helping provide care.  Don't be afraid to say, "On X I called Dr. Joe's office and reported the problem.  On Y since I never heard from Dr. Joe's office I emailed the OEF/OIF office of the problem.  On Z, I still hadn't received any kind of resolution so I emailed again and followed up with a phone call 2 days later."

Your best ally in fighting for your care is a good paper trail.  Make one and use it today!

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