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Medical Alert 'Jewellery' - Bracelets, Pendants, etc

While researching ‘medical conditions’ along with the benefits and otherwise of various treatments I have recently become familiar with, the topic of Medical Alert ‘Jewellery’ has come up a number of times.

These come in various forms including bracelets, wrist bands, arm bands, key rings, pendants to name just some. Additionally, cards, phone apps, etc - which seem likely to be less useful if not ‘attached’ to oneself. There are of course other options, but I’m leaving the forehead tattoo as a last resort …

Never having the need, I’ve never paid much attention to them other than being aware that people wore them who suffered serious conditions and/or to alert first responders to various potentially life threatening situations that might ensue from receiving treatment inappropriate to their particular condition - medical devices such as pacemakers, allergies to medication, medication that affects injury severity or treatment options, etc.

More recently I was interested to hear the reaction and ‘advice’ of health care professionals with regard to these items, which in summary and to generalise was that they don’t really recommend/suggest them these days, but they are not a bad idea and would do no harm to use. Note: none of the people I’ve talked to so far are first responders, but they do range from ED through to post-hospital care.

It seems possible if not likely that my experience is typical ‘for here’, but that different training, views/opinions and emphasis may well exist in other jurisdictions.

There are various organisations offering products and services in this space. Probably one of the better known is the ‘Medic Alert Foundation’, but there are many others, not surprisingly some who seem ‘more commercial’ in nature.

Criticism of some forms of Medical Alert Jewellery is also not too hard to find either. While a little dated, the article referenced at the end of this post by the Brisbane Times being one example.

Another consideration is how the relatively new ‘My Health Record’ might be used by first responders(?) It occurred to me that this might sway the decision of some people to engage the service if first responders are plugged into it in a useful way. There’s a few ‘ifs’ there of course …

I couldn’t find a specific review online in CHOICE on this topic, so especially given health is a topic of interest at the moment, it seems like a product offering in need of a test or at the very least a buyers guide. Knowing the effectiveness, value or otherwise of these products and their associated services especially broken down by jurisdiction and how/if they are linked to training of first responders could be very useful.

If I’ve missed it, I’d be keen to see the reference. I’m also keen to hear any and all experiences and opinions people might have from any perspective of use - wearer, responder, etc.

It seems to me that Medical Alert Jewellery ‘can’t hurt’ if done correctly, but like many things, what devil is in the detail?

Disclosure: I have not had a connection with anything in or allied with the healthcare industry other than being a consumer for well over a decade.


This is interesting.

I was definitely taught as a first responder (through St John Ambulance) to look for Medical alert jewellery, or medical IDs on phones (and now smart watches) when assessing a casualty. It is a quick and easy way to see what you might be dealing with.


The Choice test does not span all the jewellery that requires reading or proactivity by whomever ‘finds you’, but has done the alerts. The test has links to the buying guide and how we test pages. [member content]


I had a quick look over that review - there seemed a small amount of overlap but the majority of the products tested there are from a slightly different perspective with most (all?) requiring cellular coverage (and none supporting sat phone :wink: ) also requiring enough co-visibility to use GPS which might affect usefulness indoor especially in areas with a preponderance of iron roofing. It wasn’t entirely clear what immediate information these devices might provide first responders such as ambulance/etc with regard to immediate treatment considerations - my impression being they are largely ‘alarm and locate’ …

There is certainly a place for these devices though, and the review/etc is very useful and worth referencing here again.


You don’t have enough sensors in your area to monitor and report? :rofl:

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The best to comment on the information that would be critical in a first response scenario may be the trained professionals who respond. My lay view is that their training is directed towards assessing what they find and observe in the moment to treat accordingly and immediately. Given time may be critical treating the immediate identified condition/s appears to take precedent. If however some information can get to the responders while on their way, it may be a benefit. As it might for subsequent actions. I suspect there is a gap between what we imagine happens when the emergency personal turn up and what they are trained to do.

We went around in circles with our dad, until he finally accepted the need for a bracelet.
There was a conflict between wearing a bracelet or other as badge of honour or bracelet of shame. We found zero consistency in what the attached metal wear might say or even how it might be worn. There was a variety of bracelets or pendants that had a medical symbol and room to inscribe some basic details. Available from Chemists, some jewellers, or mobility aid suppliers. Room for a name, contact number, blood group, and if room allergy or a key medical condition. In more recent years perhaps you could use a MyHealth reference assuming the guys in the field have access and it is relevant at that instant.

The alternatives of some form of universal one only international standard wearable smart device, may appeal. Possibly practical, but as likely as the return of the dinosaurs. That would rely on the emergency team having the technology in their hand too. Some from other forum discussions (MyHealth) carry USB’s or SD cards with all their medical records just in case. I’d guess there may be some smart phone apps that do the same. As dad was not into smart phones we did not look for those options. Concerns with the need for phones to be locked or content readily accessible make that a difficult proposition.


Indeed - I’d be very keen to hear what actually happens in the field and know if/how this varies across the country. This is where it really matters and something that could be factored into a test/review/etc, though it is likely to be quite changeable over time.

When I was a responder we had the concept of the ‘golden hour’, which while debated somewhat, has value in describing the need for prompt intervention especially in traumatic injury cases … my main concern is alerting a first responder to an immediate need that may dramatically change how they act either by not doing something they normally would, or by doing something they normally wouldn’t …

Interesting comment about badge of honour vs shame - that had crossed my mind but I hadn’t really put words to it. Seems like a point worth considering in any evaluation of available products.