What is Medical Alert Bracelet?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 January 2019
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Sometimes it’s really important for emergency care workers to know if a person they are treating has health conditions or certain allergies. People who are alone and unconscious obviously can’t answers questions about medical status, and treatment given might be different or not appropriate given medical status. For instance, say you’re allergic to penicillin and a doctor decides to treat you for infection with it. You automatically risk anaphylactic shock, which may complicate recovery and be very dangerous. For reasons like these, people wear a medical alert bracelet.

The medical alert bracelet, of which there are many types, can give emergency care workers vital information about drugs you take, common drugs you’re allergic to, or serious medical conditions you have. These bracelets may be simple, typically silver or other metals, with a front plaque that has a medical sign on it. When emergency care workers are treating someone who is unconscious they may look for evidence of a bracelet before giving some types of care.

Sometimes the bracelet contains a phone number that medical workers can use to get patient health information. At other times, these bracelets lack phone numbers and aren’t attached to any medical reporting service. Instead they merely list a condition someone has so that certain types of treatments can be instigated or avoided.


There are a lot of styles of the medical alert bracelet, and even anklets and necklaces. The simple style is most recognizable, but some bracelets do tend to disguise the fact that they contain medical alerts. For the person who is self-conscious about a medical condition, these bracelets may be a better option. Still, they may not be automatically recognized as being a medical alert bracelet. The more stylish ones could be missed when they are most needed, which may complicate care given.

There are some people that should probably wear a medical alert bracelet. These include people with chronic heart conditions or defects, people who take blood thinners like warfarin, people allergic to common medications and people with chronic conditions like epilepsy. Ask your doctor if you have a condition that might require different treatment than is standard in an emergency to determine if you need a medical alert bracelet.

It really is advised that you stick to a simple bracelet or necklace that will be easy to spot. There can be some exceptions. Some people are allergic to metals of most types and need bracelets made of special metals, plastic, fibers, or leather. You can certainly purchase these if needed. Another thing you’ll need to determine is whether you want to pay for a service that will give out your medical records in case of emergencies. You may or may not be charged a fee for this service.

A less expensive option is to simply get a medical alert bracelet that doesn’t have this access. If you don’t have many medical conditions, but you’re just allergic to one medication, this might be a better way to go. On the other hand, complicated medical conditions require special treatment and knowledge, and it may be worth investing in an Internet listing ability or a medical reporting service with a number listed on the bracelet. Full access to your medical history or information about medical conditions may help improve and direct treatment.



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