People get tattoos for any number of reasons: as a fashion statement, to commemorate an important event or person, as personal art or just for the hell of it. Many people are starting to get tattoos to communicate lifesaving information.
Medical tattoos are becoming more and more popular with people who have severe food or medication allergies or conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or epilepsy. Used to alert medical professionals of these conditions in the event of an emergency, medical tattoos can say anything from “Do Not Resuscitate” to the medical symbol and their condition. Rather than dealing with medical ID bracelets or other jewelry that can break or get lost, people are deciding to wear that information right on (or under) their sleeve.
Paramedics and other first responders are trained to check the wrists and front of the neck for medical alert jewelry, so if you are planning to get a medical tattoo, it should be in one of those areas.
Of course, many people hesitate to get tattoos of any kind, either due to preconceived notions about tattoos or unwillingness to permanently add that info to their bodies. Though she doesn’t think that medical tattoos will replace medical ID jewelry Shelly Fisher, president and CEO of Hope Paige, a medical ID bracelet company, says that tattoos that help keep people safe can be the right choice.
“Many people don’t want to wear IDs because those make them feel branded,” she said in a recent press release. “Tattoos let them present that information in a way they choose.”
The company is also giving away temporary “In Case of Emergency” medical tattoos with any order to let people get used to the sight of a tattoo before permanently inking it. Temporary tattoos can be a good alternative during sports or other activities likely to break jewelry.
Medical tattoos do have some drawbacks, such as not being able to easily update contact information or paramedics not knowing to look for them. But for patients looking to state important basic medical information like a peanut allergy, or that they are a Type 1 diabetic, a tattoo can be an easy way to alert first responders to health issues.
Even then, there’s still a lot of debate surrounding if medical tattoos will carry any legal weight because the American Medical Association hasn’t officially included them in their guidelines.
About the Author of “A Tattoo Could Save Your Life”:
Erin Leigh is a freelance writer for Dr. Sina Kasraeian, an orthopedic surgeon in Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Florida.