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Do I need a medical alert bracelet?

Apr 02, 2020

A medical alert bracelet, which can also come as a necklace, is designed to alert health professionals of your medical conditions in the case that you’re unconscious or unable to speak.

In this situation, your bracelet can alert medical professionals to crucial information regarding your health, medications and next-of-kin contact details. This reduces the risk of mistakes being made. For example, you’re unlikely to be given a drug you’re allergic to if this is detailed on your medical jewellery.

It’s a good idea to wear both a medical bracelet and a personal alarm. The alarm could enable you to get help if you’re unable to move from a fall, for example, whereas the bracelet will provide your medical details.

You need a medical alert bracelet if:

  • you have an ongoing condition that could cause a medical emergency

You should wear medical jewellery if your condition could result in loss of consciousness or leave you unable to speak [1]. This could include narcolepsy, strokes, fainting or a heart murmur. Your bracelet might assist the doctor in working out the cause of the emergency and they may be able to help you faster.

  • you have a condition that health professionals should be aware of

Should an incident occur, it’s important that the medical professional can get as much information about you from your bracelet as possible. This might include details such as blindness and deafness or specifics about any prosthetic limbs [2]. It may also help for them to know about any mental illness, such as schizophrenia.

If you are involved in a car accident, for example, and you have a condition such as haemophilia (where your blood doesn’t clot), you might require an injection to ensure that you don’t lose too much blood at the scene. If this information is on your medical bracelet, it could save your life.

A bracelet might be helpful to people living with dementia, too. If you have this condition and wander away from home and get lost, your bracelet could alert people to your address so that they can help you to return home safely.

  • you have transplanted or absent organs

Someone who has missing or transplanted organs could need more medical attention than someone who has all of their own organs. If you fall into this bracket and you take immunosuppressants, your risk of infection can increase, which is why it’s important to state this on your bracelet.

  • you have a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) request

Some people do not want to be resuscitated should it be necessary to save their life. If you have a DNR wish [3], then make sure the medical professionals on the scene can be made aware of this information if you’re not able to tell them.

  • you’re on certain medications

Some medicine can react with other medicines and this is why it’s important to wear a bracelet that lists the drugs you take on a regular basis.

For example, some forms of antibiotics can react with blood-thinning medications and can increase your chance of bleeding [4]. It’s important that medical professionals are aware of this so they can provide you with a form of antibiotic that won’t have an impact. Listing blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin, can also alert the emergency services to potential internal bleeding.

  • you’re a carer for someone with any of the above.

If you care for someone with one of the above conditions, it’s a good idea for you to carry a bracelet too, so that the information is always accessible.

What information do you put on a medical alert bracelet?

A medical alert bracelet could include details about mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, disabilities such as blindness or deafness and the medication that you’re taking. It should also list any medication you take and an emergency contact number for a family member or close friend should they need to be contacted.

Do EMTs look for medical alert bracelets?

An EMT is an emergency medical technician who works in a similar way to a paramedic. When they first arrive on the scene, they will have been trained to look for any signs of danger, indications of what may have caused the emergency or a medical alert bracelet that can inform them of your health conditions [5]. For them, finding the cause will help them to understand what happened and treat you accordingly.

How to get a medical alert bracelet

You can purchase a medical alert bracelet through a reputable company such as MedicAlert or Mediband. When you’re making a purchase online, ensure that the company is legitimate and that their jewellery will be recognised by the general health professions. For example, Mediband’s stainless steel necklaces contain the Star of Life symbol (a snake and staff logo, pictured in the image at the top of this page). 

[3] https://www.verywellhealth.com/making-the-most-of-your-medical-bracelet-1298508
[4] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/antibiotics/interactions/
[5] https://www.ambulance.wales.nhs.uk/en/284


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