HomeOpinionWearing a MedicAlert bracelet, necklace could save your life

Wearing a MedicAlert bracelet, necklace could save your life

If you are allergic to penicillin or other medication, are diabetic or have another serious medical condition, wearing a MedicAlert bracelet or necklace could save your life in a medical emergency.

The bracelet or necklace has information about your allergy or medical conditions, your MedicAlert membership number and the MedicAlert 24-hour registry phone number, which medical professionals attending to you can call for more detailed information engraved on it.

MedicAlert Foundation Zimbabwe, which has about 45 000 members, is part of the worldwide MedicAlert Foundation, which was founded in the 1950s after a United States doctor, Dr Marion Collins, commissioned a jeweller to create a medical identification bracelet for his daughter on which her allergies were engraved.

This followed an incident in which his daughter cut her finger and needed stitches. She almost died when she was given the standard anti-tetanus injection at the hospital.

Worried about a possible repetition of this he came up with the idea of a medical identification bracelet when she went away to college.

With other people expressing interest in the idea, he and his wife, Chrissie, went on to establish the MedicAlert Foundation, which now exists not only in the United States but in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and Malaysia.

Dr Collins was so convinced of the importance of MedicAlert that he is said to have declared at one point that he thought he could save more lives with MedicAlert than he could ever do with his scalpel.

MedicAlert bracelets and necklaces are worn to provide quick information about medical conditions you may have in the event of a medical emergency.

This includes allergies, medical conditions and medication you may be taking.

In the event that you are unresponsive or unconscious, medical personnel will be able to access critical medical information quickly by looking at the information engraved on the MedicAlert bracelet or necklace. They can obtain further information by calling the MedicAlert phone number engraved on the bracelet.

While anyone can download the registration application form from the MedicAlert Zimbabwe Foundation’s website, the medical conditions section must be completed and signed by a medical practitioner.

The foundation ensures that members’ information remains confidential, providing information only to medical personnel who need to be made aware of it in order to treat you appropriately.

Your name is not normally recorded on the bracelet or necklace. Your membership number is. If a medical first responder or other practitioner telephones the foundation’s 24-hour number, quoting the membership number on the bracelet or necklace, this will be sufficient for registry personnel to retrieve the medical information on the foundation’s database.

Important information which can assist first responders and other medical personnel includes any type of medicine that you are allergic to and whether you are diabetic, asthmatic, blind, deaf, epileptic, have a heart condition, suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease, haemophilia or renal failure or are HIV positive.

These are just some of the medical conditions you could be suffering from that need to be recorded in the foundation’s database and on your MedicAlert bracelet or necklace. Information about your medication is also needed. There may also be special needs that require recording.

Other health conditions where it would be useful to have a MedicAlert bracelet or necklace include dementia, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anaemia, hypertension, cancer, autism, lung disease or multiple sclerosis. If you are on dialysis, have a pacemaker or take blood thinners this should be stated too.

Generally you will be able to supply a doctor or first responder with this information yourself. However this may not always be possible when you are seriously ill or unconscious or have a condition that makes it difficult for you to do so. The bracelet or necklace can, in such situations, speak for you.

The MedicAlert Foundation in the United States observes August as MedicAlert awareness month, when extra efforts are made to make people aware of how useful having a medical alert bracelet or necklace can be.

The bracelet or necklace has the MedicAlert symbol on one side of the bracelet and the MedicAlert registry’s phone number, individual’s membership number and the most important medical information all engraved on the other side.

Members are also issued with a card they can keep in their wallet or purse with the same information as is on the bracelet or necklace.

The MedicAlert database also includes the name and contact details of the person you would want contacted in an emergency. Your doctor’s details and your medical aid and medical aid number are also recorded in the database.

If you have a MedicAlert bracelet or necklace, it is important to wear it at all times, particularly when you are away from home.

Nobody knows when a medical emergency may occur. It would be unfortunate if it occurred at a time when you had decided to leave it at home.

It is also important to update the foundation on any changes in your medical condition or the treatment that you are on, so that its database has accurate current information to supply to paramedics, nurses or doctors who phone the foundation for information.

Because the foundation’s central registry is manned 24 hours a day, emergency calls can be received from anywhere in the world, which means wearing that bracelet or necklace could be a lifesaver even when you are out of the country on holiday.

The information in this article is provided as a public service by the Cimas iGo Wellness programme, which is designed to promote good health. It is provided for general information only and should not be construed as medical advice. Readers should consult their doctor or clinic on any matter related to their health or the treatment of any health problem. — igo@cimas.co.zw or WhatsApp 0772 161 829 or phone 024-2773 0663.

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