February 27, 2012

Medical Tattoos for your Protection


Would you get a tattoo to alert emergency responders of your condition? The San Francisco Chronicle published a thought-provoking article today about medical tattoos. Inking your body is extreme. However so is the  severity of the message that must be received if you have diabetes and need medical assistance.

Art is expression. When the art is done in permanent ink on your body – you’re making a statement without saying a word. People who have a medical tattoo, in lieu of a medic alert bracelet, have taken their public awareness to a whole new level.

Jewelry can be lost or broken. Your diabetes cannot be lost and is invariably broken. The MedicAlert Foundation sells more than 100,000 pieces of jewelry a year that have medical conditions on them. The mark of “diabetes” on your skin in permanent ink is constant. Having a tattoo that notifies EMS workers that you have diabetes may be a reliable and unbreakable clue for your rescue.

At this time, tattoos are not officially recognized in medical response protocol. An endocrinologist who sees the popularity of medical tattoos rising among his patients with diabetes commented,  “It would be helpful, for instance, if the tattoos were uniform or placed in the same area of the body so responders would know where to look.” We’re getting somewhere with this movement, not unlike Occupy Wall Street.

Truthfully there needs to be something that warns first responders what may be the problem they need to address. If a tattoo can do the job that a bracelet is unable to do – so be it. Nobody asks for diabetes. If a person wants to use body art to make a statement for their wellbeing – don’t judge. How often can you say you got a tattoo for your health?

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