For many years I’ve worn a pendant with basic medical alert info. On the rear it has printed some simple text:
It was a careful compromise with the space available. I had to decide which bits of information were essential, and useful for emergency workers to know if I was found unconscious after an accident. For example there wasn’t room to add my gluten allergy when coeliac disease was added to the mix.
Extending the system
The stainless steel pendant has been useful too: I occasionally use it to hang my insulin pump from if I’m somewhere without pockets (e.g. on the loo). But earlier this year I added another component.
Hanging from the pendant is a USB drive, which is hopefully marked in a way that will attract the attention of medicos. On the drive is one file: EmergencyID.pdf
This 1-page document contains the information that would hopefully be useful to medicos if I ended up in a hospital. I designed it after consultation with various emergency responders, ER doctors, endocrinologists, and hospital doctors and nurses.
The file is generated from a Word file I keep on my laptop. It currently includes:
- Date of last revision
- My name
- Year of birth (not full date)
- Blood type
- Type 1 Diabetes (and that I use a pump)
- Regular medications.
- Current insulin pump settings (insulin sensitivity, carb:insulin, and approximate basal rate).
- Medicare/insurance details.
- My contact details (email, phone, postal address).
I list my PO box, not my home address.
- Next of kin contact details.
- Endocrinologist and GP contact details
Why include all this information?
I’m sure some people will look at this setup and think it’s overkill. But I see it as just easy insurance.
If I’m stuck in a bed on a hospital ward where they have removed my insulin pump and the nurses will only follow insulin dosing instructions written up by a doctor (an unfortunately all-too-likely scenario in some hospitals) I at least have a chance of communicating to the doctor clearly what my insulin needs are.
I don’t have a guarantee that the file will be read, but I think I’ve taken reasonable steps to make it obvious and easy to access.
An evolving document
The file starts with a revision date for a reason: I occasionally make changes to it!
If I’m travelling overseas, all the phone numbers are already in international format, but I’ll update the insurance details to include my travel insurance policy and contact.
While I was participating in the coeliac vaccine clinical trial, the contact details for the trial doctors were also included.
The USB drive is a Samsung BAR model. This is advertised as “5-proof”. Shock, water, X-ray, freeze, and magnetic-proof. Apparently I could swim in seawater for 3 days straight and still expect it to work!
I generally don’t take the pendant off. I wear it in the shower and out. So far it has not set off any airport alarms.
My prototype has medical alert symbols printed on plastic and then encased in clear epoxy resin. The resin goes all around the the body of the drive and should stay attached for years. I did of course need to make sure enough of the drive was still exposed to fit into a computer! I’m sure I’d do a neater job if I make another one.
Unfortunately Samsung seems to have replaced the BAR with the BAR Plus. This has the same ruggedness, but has some sharp corners which are not comfortable lying against your chest.
I’m not the only person to think of applications like this. In Case of Emergency USB is a setup in Western Australia who sell drives for a similar use. Theirs are a bit larger and chunkier, and probably not as rugged as mine. But the intent is similar. They apparently recommend the use of a Rich Text Format file, but I think I’m happy with my PDF setup.