Emergency Identification

Australian Addison’s Disease Association Inc. – Newsletter, February 1998

We are all aware of the importance of wearing some form of Emergency Medical Identification to let people know that you have Addison’s Disease but what factors should you consider when trying to select the most suitable system.

If you are anything like me when first diagnosed with Addison’s Disease, the look of the jewellery was the most important thing. I wasn't going to wear any red snake or emergency symbol on my arm for strangers to notice and ask about my health. I wanted something as inconspicuous as possible and light in weight. I soon discovered that flimsy light weight jewellery just didn’t withstand the constant day to day wear and tear. After losing numerous pieces of jewellery sense finally prevailed, and I now wear a bracelet with links on it that you would need a hacksaw to get through!

The local Ambulance Chief put my other ‘important factor’ into perspective when he pointed out it is no good having jewellery that people don’t notice in an emergency. He said all their officers are trained to recognise the MedicAlert and SOS symbols as well as the cheaper Amcla medical jewellery available from your local pharmacy. He personally felt, in the initial stages of an emergency, the SOS brand of jewellery was the best because the medical information (which is kept inside the water-tight SOS Talisman capsule) is instantly available to medical staff.

On the other hand MedicAlert is recognised by doctors, which is going to be an important factor when you actually get to hospital, as one of our members found out. Don’t think, just because you tell emergency staff you have Addison’s Disease ( that’s assuming you can) and that you are wearing a bracelet with Addison’s Disease engraved on it, that they are going to believe you!!! To obtain a MedicAlert bracelet or necklace you have to get your doctor to complete the application form. It’s a good idea to get your doctor to include in the ‘Other Emergency Information’ section of the form that Hydrocortisone and saline should be given in an emergency, just in case the medical staff are not familiar with the treatment of an Addisonian Crisis. MedicAlert has your medical condition engraved on the back of emblem as well as your personal membership number. Your essential medical information which is stored at a central register, is only released to authorised medical and emergency staff when they phone and can quote your membership number. MedicAlert also provide you with a card for your wallet or handbag which has a print out of your essential medical information, including the name & phone number of your doctor and your next of kin.

The medical identification available over the counter at your local chemist is certainly the most cost effective. Prices range from chemist to chemist but generally are available from $A15.95 for a stainless steel bracelet. Obviously they don’t have one pacifically for Addison’s Disease, so you will have to get a blank one engraved.

The SOS Talisman range of emergency jewellery is available from chemists and price I wise comes in the middle of the range. The cheapest item being a Chrome Plated Watchband Unit & Nylon Band for $A33.95, while the top end of their range is a Gold Coloured Watchband Unit & Nylon Band for $A54.95. Their units are also available in stainless steel and come in the form of bracelets, SOS pendants, and a St Christopher pendant. Replacement parts are available.

MedicAlert has an annual fee of $A15.00 plus the initial cost of your emblem which ranges from $A55.00 for the Stainless Steel, $A100 for Sterling Silver, $A115 for Gold Filled or if you really want to lash out you can have 9ct Gold for $A395.00. If you purchase the Gold or Sterling Silver type they ‘will throw’ in a Stainless Steel emblem for an extra $A15.00. The MedicAlert emblem is available in a range of sizes and comes in a necklace, chain bracelet or sports bracelet form. The "red" snake has been replaced with a raised snake shape. When we contacted MedicAlert they sent us heaps of brochures so just let us know if you would like an application form.

Perhaps it is time to review the emergency medical jewellery you are wearing.