Advances in medical alert bracelets and other ID systems can make it easier for medics and ER staff to quickly access vital data about patients who can’t speak for themselves in an accident or emergency, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.
At least 60 million Americans are estimated to have a medical condition that should be known during an emergency. But only a fraction of those folks wear bracelets or carry any other type of medical information, including some of the newer methods like USB flash drives.
As part of an effort to get consumers to better prepare for medical emergencies, the American College of Emergency Physicians is launching a campaign, “Seconds Saves Lives,” with brochures to be distributed in 1,000 emergency rooms this fall.
Among other things, the group advises people to carry a emergency medical ID card or wear medical ID jewelry if they have a health condition, allergy, implanted device or if they are taking medications that might be life-threatening in certain circumstances.
ACEP recommends using medical ID linked to a live emergency medical information service such as the non-profit MedicAlert Foundation. The group offers jewelry engraved with a brief description of a patient’s condition and a 24/7 toll-free number. Operators can quickly access members’ data from electronic records that patients can update online. MedicAlert also has partnerships with drug chains including CVS to electronically transmit prescription drug and dosage information to patient records.
Consumers say the cost — about $30 a year — is well worth the peace of mind. Bob Hawkinson, a diabetic in Jacksonville, Fla., said that a MedicAlert bracelet saved his life several years ago when someone came to his aid after an accident, saw the bracelet, and gave him a sports drink to keep his blood sugar under control until medics came along.
He now has an external insulin pump, which is noted on his bracelet.
“If I ever get in another car wreck and the pump gets ripped off, emergency responders will know I can’t sit there for hours without insulin,” says Hawkinson. “It’s a good insurance policy.”