Allergies, Diseases and Disorders: Who Should Wear a Medical Alert ID?

In a medical emergency it is important that the staff treating the patient know as much about their medical history as possible. Particular surgical procedures can be inappropriate for people with certain conditions, diagnosis may be obscured by existing illness, and drugs may interact (with potentially adverse effects) with the medicines that are already being taken.

How will the emergency responders and medical staff quickly discover the relevant information about their patient, so that they can diagnose accurately and prescribe the right treatment? They can ask, but what if the patient is alone and unconscious or confused?

The answer is a Medical Alert ID.


There are two sorts of allergies that can be recorded on your ID.

Many people are allergic to common medicines and treatments that might be used in an emergency. You will be familiar with questions such as, “Are you allergic to penicillin?” which are routinely asked in clinics. Knowing these things is important because treating a patient with a substance to which they are allergic can be life-threatening.

There are a number of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, pain-killers, and stimulants to which some people are allergic, and it is essential that they are not used in a course of treatment.

Emergency teams also need to be aware of other allergies you might have, such as bee stings, nuts, lactose. If your symptoms indicate that you might have been exposed to such a source, then appropriate action can be taken quickly and safely.

Diseases and Disorders

There are many conditions that will affect the correct treatment in the event of an accident or emergency. They include anything which affects the heart, breathing, blood, nervous system, or vital organs such as the kidneys and liver. It is especially important that the doctors treating you are aware of diabetes, if present.

The emergency team also needs to know if a patient has difficulty communicating for any reason or suffers from confusion or dementia.

If you are taking any prescribed long-term medication, this is also valuable information which the people treating you will need.

All in all, this could add up to a fairly long list, so you may want to restrict it to the most significant items. It would be a good idea to discuss with your primary care physician which conditions it would be advisable to include on the ID.

What Else Should Be on the ID?

There is almost no limit to the information which could be useful in an emergency, so it is up to you to decide what is most relevant. Your name (including the name you prefer to be addressed by) will be very important; if a patient is confused the team will use their first name to hold their attention. Contact details of next-of-kin are helpful, as is blood type.

You can carry supplementary or short-term information on a card in your wallet or purse, with perhaps a note on the ID to remind your treatment team to look for it.

Alternatively, some providers of IDs also offer an online service where you can keep your conditions listed on a secure site, and the ID will provide a code to access it. This may take slightly longer to get the information to the emergency team, but it does mean that you are not limited in the information you provide—and it can be kept completely up to date.

Isn’t it a Bit Like Wearing a Dog-Tag?

Modern medical alert IDs do not need to be only functional. In fact, they are available in a whole range of fine jewelry styles. A high-quality medical alert bracelet is just as attractive as any other bracelet, while being easily recognizable to the emergency responders.

Do Doctors Look for ID?

Medical professionals know that the sort of information carried on an ID can make their treatment much more effective, so it is no surprise that almost invariably they will look for one when assessing a patient. First responders and paramedics will be able to note the contents and refer it immediately to the hospital team.

It seems that an ID on the wrist will be found slightly quicker than one around the neck, though the difference is hardly likely to be significant.

A Wise Investment

Anybody who has any condition that could affect the treatment they receive in an emergency would be well advised to wear a medical alert ID. They are not expensive and could make a huge difference to your welfare at a time when you may not be able to speak for yourself.

Henry Marshall works at his local medical center in a receptionist/admin role. He enjoys talking to patients, getting to know them a little and easing any worries they have. He writes about medical topics when inspiration strikes, and hopes his articles are helpful to readers.