Emergency Medical Services
According to the CDC, Americans made 117 million visits to hospital emergency rooms in 2007. More than 20 percent of adults made at least one visit to the ER and 7.4 percent made two or more visits. More than 12.8 million ER visits are for treatment of unintentional injuries, like motor vehicle accidents, falls or acts of violence.
There are several types of trained personnel who respond in a medical emergency. Police officers, and sometimes fire fighters, are often the first rescuers to arrive at the scene. The ambulance personnel usually have emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics (highly trained EMTs) who provide first aid and attempt to stabilize the victim before the ambulance gets to the hospital. Once at the hospital, specially-trained nurses and physicians diagnose the illness or determine the degree of injury and start appropriate treatment.
Identification in an Emergency
When a victim is taken to the hospital, family members often provide vital information about the patient’s medical history to rescue personnel and emergency physicians. But if the victim is alone at the time of the illness or accident and unconscious, doctors may have a harder time trying to determine the cause of the symptoms and how to best treat the patient. Life saving treatment may be delayed until a proper diagnosis is made. More importantly, a patient can be misdiagnosed, given inappropriate treatment, or given a drug that adversely reacts with another medication taken by the patient.
Proper medical identification is especially important for people with certain medical conditions. For example, diabetics with low blood sugar may become confused and misidentified as being intoxicated, under the influence of drugs or having a mental illness. Having some type of diabetes identification alerts rescue personnel to potential blood sugar problems, which can be quickly treated. Medical identification is also recommended for people with other medical conditions, like asthma, epilepsy and high blood pressure, those who have severe allergies to certain foods or drugs, and those who have medical implants.
Fashionable Medical Identification
Several companies offer identification necklaces and bracelets to alert rescue personnel about a victim’s medical background. San Francisco Designer, Elizabeth Torbit, says she has found that some people who should be using these identification products won’t wear them because they aren’t stylish. So, after a scare with her own food allergy reaction, she designed some of her medical identification jewelry. She calls her company, “My Flying Star.”
Torbit offers several different colors and styles of bracelets and necklaces made from leather, woven nylon or metal. All of the products contain the red star universally recognized by emergency personnel as a medical alert symbol. Some of the bracelets and necklaces are pre-engraved with medical information (like diabetes type 1, peanut allergy, etc.). Shoppers can also have the product custom engraved.
Torbit says product styles will be updated occasionally to reflect changing styles in fashion. The cost of the My Flying Star medical identification jewelry ranges from $35.00 to $75.00. Generally, it takes about two to three weeks for the orders to be shipped. For information about My Flying Star medical identification jewelry, go to http://www.myflyingstar.com.
Morton, L., et al., “Importance of Emergency Identification Schemes,” Emergency Medicine Journal, November 2002, Vol. 19, No. 6, pp. 584-586.
Wharry, Steven, “Medic Alert Foundation Turns 35, Issues Warning to MDs about Look-alike Bracelets,” Canadian Medical Association Journal, March 15, 1996, Vol. 154, No. 6, pp. 919-920.