There are various types of medical ID available. The most common form of medical ID is jewelry which provides a logo or inscription indicating a particular medical condition. These medical identification tags can be made out of stainless steel (usually classified as 316L and known as surgical stainless steel), sterling silver or gold. If found by emergency personnel the inscription provides an indication of your special medical needs. Tags are available with pre-engraved conditions or can be custom engraved with your specific medical histories and have the benefit of that all information is self-contained and does not require any form of technology to view in case of an emergency.
Another type of medical ID jewelry indicates membership in a medical information organization such as the MedicAlert Foundation, and American Medical ID. Such medical ID jewelry includes a member identification number and a toll-free number for medical emergency personnel to contact the organization and obtain full information about the wearer's medical conditions, treatment, and history. These organizations maintain a database of medical information on their members and can provide it to medical personnel when requested.
The newest technology allows the user to carry stickers with an NFC Tag. A similar technology allows the user to carry stickers with a QR code. By scanning the NFC Tag or the QR code with a smartphone, you will reach the stored medical alert information. Apple's IOS 8 operating system includes the facility for a mobile phone to contain the owner's medical emergency information.
Silicone bracelets, preprinted with a general medical condition or allergy, are also popular. The lack of personalization may be a deterrent. Recently patients have begun to "tattoo" their medical condition on their wrist or arm. Although a permanent tattoo might be considered, a temporary tattoo works as well. Other items include stick on tags that stick onto a driver's license, wallet, or cell phone which are practical for the person who does not want to carry something extra advertising their medical condition.
Another type of medical jewelry is a pendant or wrist strap containing a wireless alert button, also known as a panic button, worn in the home as part of a wireless medical alert system. This type of medical jewelry sends a signal to a dialing console which contacts a medical alarm monitoring service or directly dials first responders when an emergency occurs.
Devices marked "ICE" which can hold a significant amount of data and are readable by a computer are sold, typically USB flash drives with password-protected data entry providing read-only access to emergency medical data. However, it has been pointed out by a staff nurse with experience in trauma and critical care that such devices are worse than useless, at least in most situations in the UK, as medical computer systems are designed not to accept USB storage devices due to the risk of computer viruses. Additionally, there is no guarantee that ICE information even pertains to an unconscious person carrying it; using incorrect information can lead to patient harm and legal liability.
Typical systems have a wireless pendant or transmitter that can be activated in an emergency. When the medical alarm is activated, the signal is transmitted to an alarm monitoring company's central station, other emergency agency or other programmed phone numbers. Medical personnel are then dispatched to the site where the alarm was activated.
Elderly people and disabled people who live alone commonly use/require medical alarms.
A medical tattoo is a tattoo used to treat a condition, communicate information, or mark a body location.
A crude practice of corneal tattooing was performed by Galen in 150 CE. He tried to cover leukomatous opacities of the cornea by cauterizing the surface with a heated stilet and applying powdered nutgalls and iron or pulverized pomegranate bark mixed with copper salt; the practice was revived in the 1800s. With the rise of Christianity, tattooing declined and eventually became banned by a papal edict in 787 CE. The practice of corneal tattooing was revived by Louis Von Wecker in the 1870s.
During the Cold War, threats of nuclear warfare led several U.S. states to consider blood type tattooing. Programs were spurred in Chicago, Utah and Indiana based on the premise that if an atomic bomb were to strike, the resulting damage would require extremely large amounts of blood within a short amount of time.
Tattoos have also been used to provide notice to emergency personnel that a person has diabetes mellitus; people with this condition may fall into a diabetic coma and be unable to communicate that information.
During breast reconstruction after mastectomy (removal of the breast for treatment of cancer), or breast reduction surgery, tattooing is sometimes used to replace the areola which has been removed during mastectomy, or to fill in areas of pigment loss which may occur during breast reduction performed with a free nipple graft technique