A medic alert bracelet, or necklace, gives medical staff vital medical information about you, in the event of an emergency, or if you’re unconscious or otherwise incapacitated, and unable to give your medical history.
But who should wear a medic alert bracelet and what information should you include?
There is a long list of possibilities, but some of the most common conditions listed on medical id bracelets are:
Heart conditions (angina, pacemakers, arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation)
Allergies to medication, food and insects, latex, especially anaphylactic allergies.
Steroid dependent / adrenal insufficiency
Stroke patient or high stroke risk / TIAs
Breathing disorders (Asthma / COPD / Emphysema)
Dementia / Alzheimer’s disease
Hearing, sight or mentally impaired
Mental illness, schizophrenia, Bi-polar disorder
Alternatively, or additionally, you can list medications that you are taking which might affect your treatment in an emergency, such as:
Other things you might want to list are details of any implants such as:
Or any metal implants that might preclude you from being able to have an MRI
If you have a complex medical condition, you might want to put your general practitioner/primary care physician’s details on the bracelet so that ER staff can contact them for more information about your medical history. Some bracelets come with a (paid) subscription so that medical staff can log onto your records and access your medical history.
What kind of medical alert id should you get?
There is a wide range of medic alert jewellery available. Most common is the traditional gold, silver or stainless steel ID style bracelet with the classic medic alert logo. But now there are also sports styles, with silicone or leather bands and even elaborate bejewelled gold and silver bracelets.
While some of these designs are beautiful, set with crystals, and precious stones, the risk is that they won’t be recognised in an emergency as a medic alert bracelet. That they will be entirely overlooked, and therefore not serve their purpose.
There have been cases where a patient was wearing a fancy medical alert bracelet, but ER personnel didn’t recognise it as such, and so the information wasn’t noted, and wasn’t used. Obviously if you’re going to wear this piece of jewellery ever day of your life, you want it to be attractive, but it defeats the purpose of wearing it if no one realises it’s a medic alert bracelet.
Several ER doctors have stated in the media that they recommend the ‘traditional’ medic alert bracelets, that are quickly recognised in an emergency.
Ultimately, it comes down to personal choice. Some people wear a bracelet for reasons that doctors say is unnecessary. Others have serious conditions but don’t want anyone to know, and refuse to be identified.
It’s an individual decision, dependent on your personal medical history. Talk to your primary care doctor and get their opinion as to whether it’s necessary, weight up the risk, and the cost (some of this jewellery is very expensive) and decide for yourself.