Medic Alert: Not just a bracelet anymore

What can these bracelets do other than alert you to a patient's allergy?

I thought I was pretty seasoned in the field of Emergency Medicine, including the resources available to me to help in the treatment of my patients. I have once again learned that the gods don't like hubris (Greek mythology), and am appropriately humbled.

I often use Poison Control services in my work; in fact, they know me by my first name! (I don't know whether to be proud of that fact, or whether it means I should "get a life"). It's useful and comforting to have a well known and trusted reference I can easily contact.

Now, having recently been asked to do some medical consulting for Medic Alert, I've had the opportunity to learn about some new resources for medical information I didn't know existed. 

Medic Alert, of course, still has the same basic program they originally offered, but with an expanded repertoire of "jewelry" or methods of communicating a patient's medical condition(s). They even have haute couture with a Swarovski Black Pearl bracelet — my wife tells me this is a good thing, but that isn't really what I want to tell you about.

If you transport a patient with a Medic Alert bracelet, take 30 seconds to give the number a call. Even if you don't think the medical information you obtain may be useful to you in the field, it may be of tremendous use at your destination facility.

Medic Alert will contact your destination hospital with your patient's medical information on record. They can send EKGs on file, DNR directives, and many other helpful bits of medical information.

So, if you don't already do so, think to ask your patient if they are registered with Medic Alert or look for Medic Alert ID in the form of a bracelet, necklace, shoe tag, or wallet ID card. Any bits of information about a patient help clear The Fog of EMS.

Another program that I think is worth mentioning here, that I had no idea existed, is the Medic Alert Safe Return.

Here's how it works:

1. If an individual with Alzheimer's or a related dementia wanders and becomes lost, caregivers can call the emergency response line to report it.

2. A community support network will be activated, including local Alzheimer's Association chapters and law enforcement agencies, to help reunite the family member or caregiver with the person who wandered.

3. If a citizen or emergency personnel finds the member, they can call the toll-free number engraved on the member's ID. Medic Alert Safe Return will notify the member's emergency contacts, ensuring the person is safely returned home.

A number of times EMS is called to transport an elderly patient who has been found wandering. In the ER, It can be a challenge to re-unite the patient and the family. I have started to recommend that the family consider using a service, like Safe Return, in the future for their loved one.

By utilizing the technological explosion that has occurred over the past 50-plus years since its inception, Medic Alert can take full advantage of the wide range of avenues of data storage and transmission. (Personally, I want to be able to see a scanned copy of a patient's signed DNR, or maybe an earlier EKG — on my smartphone! Perhaps soon!)

If you have any thoughts on what Medic Alert might provide that could be useful to you in the field, as always, I'd love to hear from you. You all are the ones out there on the front lines and I have no doubt you come up with all sorts of good ideas that perhaps go no farther than your rig. Drop me an email and, who knows … maybe your idea will be the next great membership offered by Medic Alert.

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