During a medical emergency, it is important that paramedics and other emergency medical professionals have quick access to the most relevant aspects of a patient’s medical history as soon as possible. Medical alert bracelets are small decorative identification tags that can be customized to the particular needs of the wearer. They are engraved with any information that would be necessary in the event of an emergency especially if it will directly affect the type of treatment or medication a patient should receive. Medical alert bracelets are most commonly worn by persons with chronic medical conditions (diabetes, epilepsy), and or food and drug allergies (peanuts, penicillin, morphine) so proper medical attention can be given if, for example, the patient wearing the bracelet is unable to communicate during the emergency.
Medical alert bracelets are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors and have varying designs for men, women and children. They are easily recognizable as they all have the image of the rod of Asclepius (a snake entwined around a staff) on the front. The image is derived from one of the sons of Apollo Asclepius, who was a practitioner of medicine in ancient Greek mythology. The bracelets are constructed from durable materials such as sterling silver, gold, platinum and stainless or surgical steel as they should not be removed during any activity (showering, swimming, sports etc.). The tags can be engraved on both sides: the font can hold an average of four lines of text with fourteen characters per line and the reverse can hold up to four lines with twenty two characters per line. Larger bracelets are also available that can hold five or more lines of text where necessary.
The most basic medical alert bracelets are engraved with the patient’s name, their medical condition or conditions, medication they may taking and the name and telephone number of their physician or primary caregiver but the information will vary depending on the needs and age of the wearer. Children especially may require medical alert bracelets for illnesses and allergies, and are recommended in instances where children may spend extended periods of time persons unfamiliar with their illnesses or needs (summer camps etc). The medical alert bracelets of older patients may list memory problems like Alzheimer’s or those caused by strokes or if they have pacemakers, other implantable medical devices or are hearing impaired. Bracelets may also be worn after certain surgeries such as organ transplants, gastric bypass or lap band surgery or may indicate a rare blood type. Medical alert bracelets may also indicate membership in a medical program and will list the toll free number for the organization that should be contacted in the event of an emergency.
Basic medical bracelets are affordable and will cost anywhere from $12 – 20 with engraving for a surgical or stainless steel version. Silver bracelets range in price from $35 – $100 while gold and platinum medical alert bracelets can cost anywhere from $200 to upwards of $500. Prices will also vary by size which range from adult extra small ( 6 ½ inches ) to extra large (8 ½ inches).