Medical IDs save lives

By Jennifer Kerley | Jan 24, 2014

In an emergency situation, every second is valuable. Being able to quickly get your hands on your medical history—or that of another family member — could be the difference between life and death.

Everyone should carry medical identification because first responders are trained to look for them in an emergency if the person is unresponsive. According to an American Medical ID survey, more than 95 percent of responders look for a medical ID during emergencies. With proper medical ID, a first responder can quickly determine how to treat any condition.

A medical ID is a personal record of all prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as allergies to medications and foods. The record also should have your medical history information, such as chronic disorders like high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease, and recent health conditions like a heart attack or stroke. It’s important to keep your information up to date, especially if you’ve stopped taking a particular medication. All this information is invaluable for treating you during an emergency.

Other information to include in a medical ID is your doctor’s name, emergency contacts and the preferred hospital you would like to go to. Beware of identity thieves. Don’t include your health insurance ID number, social security number, credit card number or bank information.

Creating a wallet-size ID card is simple and is easy to keep on you at all times. On the Internet, there are many free versions available for download. You simply input your information and print them out.

People who take multiple medications or have allergies to medications, food or latex especially shouldn’t be without one. Others who are disabled, developmentally disabled, have a hearing or language impairment, or have special needs should also have some form of medical ID.

Sufferers from problems like Alzheimer’s, hemophilia, drug and food allergies, epilepsy, diabetes, asthma and pacemakers have the option of carrying medical bracelets, armbands, dog tags and necklaces that have the Caduceus symbol on them, alerting attending personnel of their medical conditions. You can even get a DNR bracelet. Colorful rubber wristbands are good for young children.

People without a medical condition and have no allergies should carry an In Case of Emergency (ICE) card. If you’re seriously hurt, ICE cards have the phone numbers of anyone who should be contacted.

Medical ID and ICE card apps are available for your smartphone. These apps should be regarded as a backup, because in an accident your phone may be damaged or out of power.