Functional Life Saving Tattoos

Functional Life Saving Tattoos


OVERVIEW—There has been a new tattoo concept flowing through the industry as of late that is both functional and potentially life-saving. Medical ID tattoos are now on the radar as a substitute for the more conventional medical ID bracelets and wallet-cards.

For those suffering from chronic and/or life-threatening conditions, medical ID alerts are crucial for times when a person is unable to communicate on their own regarding a medical condition. These alerts have historically been common for people with diabetes and life-threatening allergies, and are often indicated with the use of medical ID jewelry. However, those with the need for such alerts have been getting more creative – and might we add, stylish – in the way they indicate their medical conditions.

While many people feel that a more permanent marking is better suited to convey serious conditions, there are some who argue that medical ID bracelets or wallet-cards are a safer bet. Looking into why someone may not feel safe with a medical ID tattoo, a few reasons were uncovered that have more to do with the standard EMT protocol than the efficiency of these tattoos.

For instance, emergency responders are trained in a standardized protocol that includes quickly scanning a person’s wrists and wallet for medical identification. They are not, however, trained to check a person’s arms, chest, etc. which means that there is the potential for a medical ID tattoo to go unseen by paramedics. This makes sense, as EMTs respond to emergency situations where time is often limited. Another inconsistency with medical ID tattoos is that they are not moderated the way medical ID jewelry is, so it is possible that EMTs might mistake the identification tattoo for a medical awareness tattoo. There is also no standard guideline for medical tattoos, so designs could vary drastically and potentially confuse paramedics.

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Flickr image via Char James-Tanny

So why look into getting a medical ID tattoo anyway? There are plenty of people who have had negative experiences with ID jewelry, such as the jewelry breaking off or becoming misplaced—certainly not an issue with a tattoo. Having a medical alert that you never have to think about make living with a chronic condition that much less stressful. Having a unique medical tattoo can also open up the door for casual communication about serious medical conditions and allow people to educate others about their condition.

When balancing the pros and cons of replacing conventional medical alerts with medical ID tattoos, it seems that different alerts may just work better for different people. These innovative medical alert tattoos are best suited for people who do not already, or do not plan to, have an abundance of other tattoos, people who do not like the inconvenience of jewelry (replacements can get expensive), or those who simply do not like the style options available for medical ID jewelry.

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