One of the things that comes up for debate every so often in my volunteer communities is the question “I know I need a medical bracelet, but what do I put on it”?
I have been a MedicAlert Foundation member for several years & I started out with the standard pendant but then opted later for a bracelet.
I found theirs while nice just didn’t hold up as well. I’m always bumping my wrist into something, so I kept the membership & have my member number engraved on my ID. But have opted to use other bracelets.
I do see now they have a wider selection of some of the more popular bracelets out on the market.
For years, I had a bracelet that doubled as a USB drive as well with my medical record on it (it looked very similar to the one in the feature image. The company that makes it is called CARE Medical History).
That was great but I wondered about the seal covering it & if it would really last & was fully waterproof like they claimed. I was also told that due to security issues & virus fears that EMTs might not even bother with it.
I went on a hunt again. This time I found something really nice from Lauren’s Hope. They have a really nice section of bracelets on sale & they hold up well, even with my klutziness.
Part of the issue of why I had so many ID’s over time was that my needs keep changing.
I’d develop an allergy or reaction to a drug. Or something else would change that I felt paramedics really should know if I couldn’t speak for myself at any point.
To be honest, my first medical ID had my rare diseases on it.
But after some astute advice & advisement from MedicAlert as I was updating my record years ago (& was having trouble), I included other things over time instead that meant more than just names of diseases.
The fact that I have both of my lungs surgically glued to my chest wall to prevent collapses is important. Because EMT’s need to know to be extra careful around my chest area.
So I have the words “subject to lung collapses” & “pleurodesis” printed on my current & past bracelets.
Also since I took an immunosuppressant for several years (even though it was for a purpose other than transplant) that does affect the drugs I can take, so I have “immunosuppressed” printed on my current bracelet.
In the past I had things like “No estrogen” and “no doxycycline or prednisone” because I react very strongly to those medications, even if I don’t have the classic full blown allergy case.
Now, I do make sure these notes are up-to-date in my medical record so they’ll know not to give me any of these medicines without clearing it with my doctor first even though it’s not specifically printed there.
But since they aren’t classic allergies, I had more important & pressing things I needed to put on there instead.
Since I now use oxygen I also felt that was something that should be on my bracelet. So I have the phrase “Uses O2” printed on it since it takes up less space and gets the point across to EMTs. Lastly, I have my name & MedicAlert number and the number to call and my year of birth, so they know roughly how old I am.
The point of this post is not to tell people what to put on their bracelets, but give some food for thought since it is an important but personal decision.
The band I have now is waterproof and silicone so it does not irritate me at all. It’s not a RoadID but very similar in style.
It was made by a company called SportsTagID but these are designed to be very rugged & for athletes or people who want something recognizable yet still lower profile.
It was a little tricky at first to figure out the measuring and instructions of my current bracelet but I was forwarded a helpful video by a customer service rep. That made things so much easier.
This way, the only time I have to take it off is when & if I need some sort of CT scan or MRI. It holds up quite well. These types of bracelets are becoming more prevalent and popular as far as options.
There’s also this company, Endevr, who offers a wide selection of products. This is tempting because it is not only a band, but also has QR code & can integrate with a smartphone app. The add-on features per membership are reasonable, too. But the base membership is free & the bracelet costs are reasonable.
I’ll have a new one engraved post transplant. Then I’ll decide again what is the most critical information needed to be placed on it.
At first, it was hard to admit I needed something (especially when I was younger), but they’ve become so commonplace & come so far with comfort & design it’s no big deal to me now.
But I know to people who were in otherwise good health that do need one, it can be tough picking & choosing the most helpful info to include. It may not necessarily be the textbook names of your diseases, either.
Luckily, there are several great choices out there that are relatively inexpensive.
MedicAlert is a nonprofit organization with great basic membership services so that’s why I chose them.
But there are other options, & in the end, it’s all about finding something that works.
[Update 3/5: The sites I posted above have very cheap bracelet or low membership costs. However, I do realize that MedicAlert membership can seem pricey to some. So while these are mainly diabetic-centered, there are resources for free or reduced cost medical alert jewelry that are worth passing along.
Like Lauren’s Hope, My Bugle tries to offer many stylish & varied selections of medical bracelets that are unique but also look less like static medical bracelets. They have a nice selection & have ways to customize them. (This might be a good option for international friends in the market for a bracelet.)
This company hosted a free bracelet exchange for Diabetes Awareness month a few years ago, but their base costs for basic bracelets are relatively low.
The Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation does have a free jewelry program.
This company does not have a free bracelet program but very low cost silicone bands that can direct EMTs to a smartphone for your medical information or details can be written on the inside of the bracelet itself. This may be a viable alternative to a MedicAlert Membership for those who can’t afford it. Some of these basic bands are less than $5.
The VA has a free bracelet program for veterans.
Also, it might be worth asking a local Lions Club or the hospital about resources for a low cost or free bracelet. Or even basic bracelets with a wallet card are often stocked at pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens. Some pharmacies do offer free engraving.]
Another important consideration for some people, especially with multiple health issues, is the ability to have 4-6 lines of text for critical information on the bracelet itself. Even if the last line of that is see wallet card or see phone.
So that’s a factor too, sometimes the bracelets are more expensive because they allow more characters or lines of text for information to be put on the bracelet.
For example, needing oxygen and making sure they know my lungs are glued to my chest wall are critical for initial emergency response in my case, so they don’t do interventions that would cause more problems for my lungs or leave me without the proper flow of oxygen for too long. Having that and reading it on the bracelet immediately guides them & also saves time.
I enjoyed reading your article and completely agree that you need to carefully consider the wording on your medical alert bracelet. We make medical bracelets as well, and frequently talk with parents who want a bracelet to protect their child, but their child has either not been told about the full diagnosis, or is not comfortable telling others about their diagnosis. So it’s a case of finding wording that they ARE comfortable with, to make sure that they have some much-needed protection. Sometimes it can refer to their medication if they are not willing to put the name of the condition. Or it can direct emergency staff to a wallet card or a phone number to call instead. Whatever the situation, I always feel it is important to have the buy-in from the person who will be wearing the bracelet. If they are comfortable with the wording and the design of the bracelet, they are much more likely to wear it … and be protected. Thanks again for your article. If you have room for another link, my company is My Bugle Ltd (www.mybugle.com), focusing on casual and colorful styles for the young (and young at heart). We are trying to offer something a little bit different, and our designs have been really popular with people looking for a more discrete bracelet.
All the best, Tanya
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Tanya thanks so much – great points as well. I will definitely check the site out and then update with a link. Thanks for sharing – do you sell overseas and to USA both? I think when I checked earlier I couldn’t find dollar equivalents so was hesitant to add outright until I knew the rough USA cost