Reviewed by Di Bush, PhD
If you have ever looked around a pharmacy as you waited for your prescriptions to be filled, or if you’ve attended a diabetes education program, you have probably seen diabetes identification cards and jewelry. There are many different types available and they usually don’t cost much. Unfortunately, many people with diabetes choose not to wear medical identification.
In a recent article, The Wall Street Journal described medical identification as a “low-tech lifesaver.” In spite of research showing that wearing medical ID can save lives, many people do not take advantage of these lifesavers, the article reported. If you take insulin and some oral medications for diabetes, the benefits are probably clearer to you. If your blood glucose level goes too low and you have an insulin reaction, you may not be able to ask for the help you need. The people around you and emergency personnel need to know you have diabetes so they can check your blood glucose and give you the correct treatment. If you do not take medicine for diabetes, it is true that you are less likely to have an emergency caused by diabetes compared with people who take insulin or oral medicines.
However, anyone can have an accident or an emergency. Knowing that you have diabetes could help the people around you know how to best care for you. In an emergency, seconds can make a difference. Wearing medical identification can save precious time. You cannot always count on your medical records being available or that your family will be there to provide this information. Wearing medical identification can help give you peace of mind that you will get the care you need, in any situation.
In spite of these benefits, some people choose not to wear medical identification. If this is true for you, the information below may address your concerns and give you some ideas that may help you think differently about it.
The identification is too small to see. Who is going to waste time looking for one during an emergency?
If you don’t think the medical ID will be noticed, consider that The Wall Street Journal article included research findings showing that 95% of all emergency medical technicians look for such identification.
My medical history is no one’s business and I don’t like to advertise that I have diabetes.
If you are concerned about people asking why you wear medical identification, choose a product you can wear under your clothing—one that is more discreet, but will still be noticed by emergency personnel. Be sure to include an identification card in your wallet that says you have diabetes. If you are alone, this is one of the first places the police or other emergency personnel will look. The card can include a list of your medicines, any other health problems or medication allergies, the name and telephone number of your diabetes care provider and contact information so they can reach your family. However, you cannot rely on an emergency card alone. You and your wallet or purse may become separated, which is another reason to wear ID.
So the next time you are waiting for your prescription, instead of just looking at medical ID products, buy one and put it on. While the cost for these devices is often small, the price for going without them could be very large.