Here in the UK, approximately 1 in 4 people live with a medical condition or allergy. And not only do many of these conditions make people more vulnerable, but some aren’t easily visible – which can be worrisome in the event of an emergency.
If you or a loved one lives with a health condition that makes you particularly vulnerable, then it’s perfectly normal to feel some trepidation about engaging in independent activities.
The thought of not having someone around that knows your medical history if something were to happen can make doing things like exercising alone, travelling abroad, and socialising with new people feel daunting.
However, these are all important elements of a healthy lifestyle and you shouldn’t have to miss out on them.
With this in mind, we’ve teamed up with The MedicAlert Foundation UK – a trusted charity that provides life-saving medical ID services- to explain what a medical ID is and how you or someone you know could benefit from one.
What is a medical ID?
A medical ID is a quick and efficient way for anyone that’s looking after you in an emergency (like a first responder, for example) to access all the vital information they need to keep you safe and give you the right treatment. This is particularly important if you’re unable to speak, such as if you’re unconscious, in shock, or you suffer from a medical condition that makes communication difficult.
A MedicAlert medical ID comes in the form of a necklace or bracelet. It’s engraved with the internationally recognised symbol for health and medicine on the front and your most vital, need-to-know information on the back. In addition to your MedicAlert ID, you can carry a wallet card that has additional space for your medication, conditions, or allergies.
Also on the back is MedicAlert’s 24/7 helpline number (which can be contacted from anywhere in the world and in 100 languages and dialects), as well as your unique membership number.
By calling the helpline and quoting your membership number, whoever‘s taking care of you will be able to access your full MedicAlert record. This includes any conditions you live with, medications you may be on, and your emergency contacts – as well as your medical history and any relevant medical documents.
It’ll also include any other relevant information that’s vital in deciding how you should be cared for in an emergency, such as whether you have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) or a pacemaker.
Your full MedicAlert record will be checked by a registered nurse when you sign up and whenever it’s updated to make sure that all information provided is reliable and medically sound.
Having access to this information will make it easier for first responders and medical professionals to understand any symptoms you’re experiencing, make a quick diagnosis, and give you the treatment that you need. It can also help them avoid giving you any treatment that might not be right for your health condition.
As for the jewellery itself, you can choose from over 60 different styles to make sure that it’s not only something that’ll give you peace of mind but something you’ll enjoy wearing. In addition to your main ID, accessories like wallet cards and helmet tags are also available with MedicAlert.
Most first responders are trained to check for a medical ID in an emergency situation. Bracelets and necklaces are also conveniently located so that they’ll be discovered when medical professionals are performing physical assessments like checking pulse points.
Who can benefit from a medical ID?
If you live with any medical condition or allergy, then you could benefit from a medical ID – as the information it provides could help to guide or determine the type of treatment you’re given in the event of an emergency.
Here are a few of the most common conditions people use medical IDs for…
10 ways you could benefit from a medical ID
1. A medical ID will do the talking for you
In an emergency medical situation, you may not be able to communicate with first responders or whoever’s taking care of you for various reasons. For example, you may be unconscious or otherwise impaired – or you may live with a condition that makes communication difficult.
In this case, a medical ID will do the talking for you. It’ll give whoever’s looking after you all the important health information they need, without you or anyone else having to answer questions.
2. A medical ID can make it quicker for medical professionals to make a diagnosis
In many medical emergencies, time is incredibly important. It can mean the difference between a situation being successful resolved or having serious consequences.
For instance, when someone with epilepsy has a seizure that lasts for more than five minutes or has multiple seizures within a five minute period (what’s called ‘status epilepticus’), early treatment can be life-saving.
Therefore, it’s important that diagnoses are made as quickly as possible so the right treatment can be given. A medical ID can also be especially helpful if you or your loved one suffers from a particularly rare condition or allergy.
3. A medical ID can protect you against potentially harmful medical errors
Your medical condition might mean that some standard treatment options cause you more harm than good – for instance, if you have a severe allergy to any medication, such as penicillin.
In this case, your medical ID can prevent you from being treated with anything that could make your condition worse or place you in greater danger.
4. A medical ID can minimise the risk of healthcare professionals misreading your symptoms
Healthcare professionals aren’t perfect and sometimes they can misinterpret your symptoms. For instance, some signs of seizures can be mistakenly interpreted as indicators of intoxication or drowsiness. Or, if you live with visual impairment, first responders may interpret your lack of eye response to mean that you’ve suffered head trauma.
By having your full medical record on hand, you can reduce the likelihood of healthcare professionals misreading your symptoms, so you can get the right treatment as quickly as possible.
5. A medical ID can help your children or grandchildren to be more independent
We all worry about our children or grandchildren’s safety, but this worry can intensify if they’re living with a medical condition or allergy that makes them particularly vulnerable.
However, by getting them a medical ID, you can hopefully find comfort in the knowledge that they stand the best chance of receiving the correct treatment, regardless of where they are.
6. Wearing a medical ID can give our friends and family peace of mind
When it comes to our friends and family, we tend to spend our time worrying about them as opposed to thinking about how they worry about us. Though, if you live with a medical condition or allergy, chances are, your loved ones worry about you when they’re not around.
Wearing a medical ID can provide them with the reassurance that you’ll be looked after properly in the event of an emergency.
7. A medical ID can help you travel without worry
Travelling can be nerve-wracking if you’re living with a medical condition or allergy. If you need medical attention while abroad, there are a few hurdles that could complicate things – a language barrier or unfamiliar healthcare systems, for example.
A medical ID can help here, as it gives whoever’s treating you access to your medical history with a quick phone call. The MedicAlert emergency helpline is not only available 24/7, but also from anywhere in the world and in 100 languages and dialects.
8. Wearing a medical ID means that you won’t have to carry around printed documents
Depending on your circumstances, you may need to carry around printed documents like rare condition fact sheets, DNRs (Do Not Resuscitate orders), implant information, or care plans, to guide medical professionals caring for you in an emergency.
This can sometimes be inconvenient, as documents can be lost or forgotten. But, by wearing a medical ID bracelet or necklace you can make sure you’re never without any vital information.
9. With MedicAlert, all your information is in one place
Being a MedicAlert member isn’t only helpful in an emergency situation. In fact, having all of your information in one place is also convenient in other instances, like when you’re attending a medical appointment.
In this case, you can take your MedicAlert Wallet card or printed record and provide healthcare professionals with all of your information in a clear and easy to read format.
MedicAlert also make it quick and simple to check and update your medical records, too.
10. A medical ID can give you greater freedom and independence
Depending on your circumstances, having a medical condition or allergy can make spending time alone or with new people feel daunting. You may be worried about not having someone around who knows medical history in an emergency.
But, these fears can cause you to miss out on many elements of a healthy lifestyle, such as socialising with new people or exercising – which are beneficial for both your physical and mental health. Your condition shouldn’t cause you to miss out on leading an independent life.
Wearing a medical ID can help you maintain greater independence. For example, it might give you the confidence to go for a solitary walk or meet up with some new friends – all while having the peace of mind that if anything happens, those around you will have access to your complete medical records.
As you can see, there are lots of benefits to wearing a medical ID if you live with a health condition or allergy. This includes everything from actively providing medical professionals with the information they need in an emergency situation, to giving you the peace of mind to be able to lead an independent and healthy lifestyle.
If you’re interested in getting yourself set up with a medical ID, then head over to the MedicAlert website. All you have to do is create an account, choose your MedicAlert ID jewellery, and then build your medical record by providing information on any medical conditions, allergies, emergency contacts, and documents.
Your engraved MedicAlert ID will cost you as little as £24.95 for the most popular stainless steel classic bracelet, depending on how you choose to customise it. And a full MedicAlert membership costs £32 a year – which is less than a monthly cup of coffee at Starbucks. Although, Rest Less members can get 15% off by entering the discount code RESTLESS15 at checkout.
Once your record has been thoroughly checked by a registered nurse, your MedicAlert ID will be dispatched and sent to your home address.
The MedicAlert website has more information about how their products and services work – as well as stories from real MedicAlert customers. Or for more health tips and advice, you might want to check out the relevant section of our own website here.
Do you wear a medical ID? If so, how have you found it helpful? We’d love to hear from you. Join the conversation over on the Rest Less community forum or leave a comment below.