It’s a simple step, but one many doctors forget to remind patients to take: Wear a medical-alert bracelet.
A growing number of American adults and children face complex medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes. They may have drug or food allergies, suffer from disorders like autism, or take medications like the blood thinner coumadin that medical staff should know about in an emergency.
New bracelets and other medical-identification systems can fill in first responders on practically a patient’s complete health history. They’re a far cry from the simple identification bracelets of the past, which with a few engraved words informed medics that a person was, perhaps, allergic to penicillin. They can steer first responders to a secure website or toll-free phone number, or initiate a text message, to get the medical and prescription history of a patient who may be unconscious or unable to talk about their condition.
Of course, wearing the traditional clunky metal medical-alert bracelets might be a turnoff to some, and too visible a reminder of a disease or condition. That’s one reason a number of jewelry companies make bracelets, necklaces and watches that look like real bling—Tiffany & Co. has a gold bracelet for $2,250, for instance—and some pendants can easily be hidden under clothes.
But unless these are linked with membership to a medical-information service, such as the nonprofit MedicAlert Foundation, emergency responders’ knowledge will be limited to what’s engraved on the accessory. People who don’t want to wear jewelry can carry a specially marked USB flash drive loaded with emergency data that medics can read from any computer in an emergency. Whatever identification system is chosen, doctors say, it should provide a way for responders to access as much information as possible quickly.
Full story: The Jewelry Prescription – WSJ.com
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