Emergency medical identification

Emergency Medical Identification is a system that alerts physicians and emergency medicine personnel of a health condition, medical history, or other factors that may impact emergency medical services. More than 100 million peopleare admitted to an emergency room each year in the United States. Many of them are unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate to the physician. As a result, the physician may lack important information on other medical problemsthe patient may have, such as diabetes, which must be taken into consideration when providing care. With the proper information, for example, physicians can avoid giving medications that could interact adversely with othermedications a patient may be taking.

One of the first emergency medical identification systems was developed by Dr. Marion Collins and his wife, Chrissie Collins. In 1956, the Collins's daughter nearly died after suffering an allergic reaction from a tetanus shot. As a result, the couple designed a bracelet for their daughter to wear that contained information about her allergic condition. They then began producing bracelets from their home for other people and eventually built a not-for-profit organization that provides emergency medical identification servicesfor 2.4 million people in the U.S. and 1.7 million people in other countries.According to an organization survey, the system has saved more than 80,000 lives. The Collins's contributions to the development of the system have beenrecognized with the 1998 C. Everett Koop Health Advocate Award presented by the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development of the American Hospital Association and the 1998 Medaille d"Excellence for Health from the World Wins Corporation.

Many private companies now offer emergency medical identification services. These services may include bracelets and other jewelry, identification cards,and computerized back-up information on the patient's medical conditions. According to the American Medical Association and the Academy of AmericanFamily Physicians, an emergency identification system should include a clearly visible, durable tag with the universal medical symbol (the caduceus, a staff with two oppositely twined serpents and surmounted in wings) and a medical information card that contains pertinent medical information and the identity of family, friends, and personal physicians.

People should carry an emergency medical identification card when they have amedical condition, allergy, implant, or medication that could be life threatening in an emergency situation. It is estimated that that at least 60 million Americans have a medical condition that should be known in times of emergency. Considering that, in the United States, an accident occurs every six seconds and that every six minutes a fatality occurs as a result of an accident,emergency medical identification can certainly help save lives and play an important role in improving health care during an emergency situation.

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