I have been reading various articles lately about people who are tattooing their medical directives/allergies/alerts to some area of their body.  Like "No CPR" on their chest, or the medical alerts on their wrists instead of wearing a bracelet.  What is the position of your department on this issue?  Would you follow the request of someone who has no CPR/DNR tattooed on their chest?  I would be very interested to know your thoughts.  

In some ways this is a good idea especially for alerts and allergies, but it would have to be in a consistent place on a person.  As for the directives that is a hard one because in order for a directive to be valid it must be signed by the doctor.

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Personally I will work a person until the physical DNR is presented.  CYA

What is your opinion on alerts and allergies being tattooed?

I would send somebody to start looking for the orange card or sheet with the signature on it. It's nice to have advance warning if they are a DNR. As far as allergies that is going a little to fare there are some people that it will take an entire limb for the allergies.

I was amazed when I read that article. I asked our Medical Chief and he said that we would still require the signature but to see the alerts and allergies would be a great help in case the person was not able to communicate it.  He also said that if this is something that people are going to do there should be a standard location for that information.

We would have to work on a person until an actual DNR is presented. If there's no DNR, we would have to keep going until a ToD is pronounced.

As for the medical conditions; While I have a couple tattoos myself and want more, I'm not sure if I would do it. It's an interesting concept and you wouldn't have to worry about putting on a bracelet or necklace every time you take it off. Also, it would possibly allow easier reading for any tech or medic that's treating a patient. Just a case of if you want it, go for it, if not, don't. It has its pros and cons.

Also, considering it's not on anything issued, would techs/medics actually be able to follow them? Would still have a confirmation issue.

Until I have paperwork saying DNR, it's pushies and puffies!


As for the medical alerts,if that how the person wants to display it,good for them, but its going to have to in the right area.

Where would you look and how would you even know to look for something like that?

Intresting you brought this up, I've never heard about it until the other night in my EMT class. Like someone else said, I don't know how much you can trust a tattoo..i'd still like actual paperwork or family words on the patient. 

A valid DNR is signed by a physician, so a "No CPR" tattoo isn't going to mean squat. Having allergies, or medical Hx tattooed is interesting, but personally I think it is stupid. First off, where would you even have this, because everyone is different and I'm not going to spend time searching for tattoos.


There are already other alternatives there for both a DNR and history, such as pendants, bracelets, etc......of which most responders are trained to look for. Another thing is a File for Life folder, which I find very helpful as long as it is updated and is much cheaper than getting tattoos.



Now if one truly wants to make things easier with a tattoo, get their signature tattooed for the stupid HIPPA forms. 

As for the DNR's...yah..I'm still doing CPR until the paperwork is shown.

As for the tattoo..I have a friend who had her medic-alert bracelet tattooed on her wrist...where the bracelet would have been. Looks just like it...only bigger, and with her diabetic info under it.

We here, as medical responders, are to look for the medic-alert when doing the primary....the tattoo counts.

We here, as medical responders, are to look for the medic-alert when doing the primary....the tattoo counts.


To a point. Any good EMT should be checking a blood glucose on any person who is altered, which should answer the diabetic question and to base clinical decisions off of that. So for me, the other pertinent history would be about an implanted pacemaker.....any other history for someone who is unresponsive doesn't really matter enough for someone to get it tattooed to themselves. Even the pacemaker isn't as big of issue, but helps to know about pad placement if needed.


I personally think it would be a waste of money and ugly and basically stupid to be marking personal history in the form of a tattoo. Most pertinent history could be obtained by talking to the patient, or family.....looking at the medications or list can be a big clue for patient history.....and for those where there really is no other associated info and nobody around who knows the pt.......an EKG and chem Bg will give you a very good starting point.


Allergies may have a place for the hospital, most EMS providers don't carry meds that trigger allergies, like antibiotics. Sure seen many people with allergies to weaked pain meds and those with allergies to aspirin....but in most cases if asking it is an adverse reaction, not a true allergy.


So yeah in the end for me, I think tattooing such history is a waste of money and a dumb idea. Get a pendant or bracelet.

I have to admit, after reading that statement again, that was a pretty dumb thing to say. oops.

So, if I understand you correctly, and please correct me if I'm wrong, are you saying that you feel that the medic-alert bracelet is unneccessary? That any good emt will do the blood sugar check is pretty much a given, I agree, but wouldn't the awareness of such a condition make things go a little faster for those not trained to emt level? Meaning, if we, as non-emt's, come across a patient who may just need a little sugar to get them back up again,wouldn't that bracelet have served its purpose and saved time?

Sure, I get it that some people don't agree with tattoos, and that's all well and good, but some do like them and think it's a good idea.....that's their choice. At the same time, there are those who have jobs that cannot wear jewelery such as bracelets or pendants, and feel this would be a good alternative. Can't fault them for that.


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