What to Engrave on a Medical ID Bracelet

Purpose of a Medical ID
The purpose of a medical id is to alert paramedics and EMT's to a patient's specific medical or allergic condition at the point in time when they're about to administer emergency treatment.  It's certainly critical for persons whose illnesses might render them unable to speak to wear a medical id bracelet or medical alert pendant, but anyone involved in a traumatic incident like a car crash could be in a state of unconsciousness when help arrives.  The goal is for the patient to receive proper treatment without delay, and to help insure that she won't receive a medication that she's allergic to.  It's commonly said that a medical id speaks for you when you're unable to speak.

Your Doctor is the Final Authority
What follows is a set of guidelines that will help you know what you should engrave on your medical id, but there's no substitute for the advice of a medical professional.  These guidelines will get you started, but your doctor should be the one that makes the final recommendation for the language that will be engraved on your medical id.

Key Components
There are four pieces of information that generally need to be engraved on a medical id alert bracelet: diagnosis or condition, allergies (if any), patient's name, and emergency contact.  There are also things that aren't needed, such as the patient's address (unless they have dementia) and social security number.

Personal Information
Most people prefer to have personal information out of sight, so it's most common to have the patient's diagnosis and allergies engraved on the front of their ID bracelet, and their name and emergency contact on the back.  (note: although not all medical id providers offer two-sided engraving, most medical id bracelets can be engraved front and back, and that provides more room for engraving).

Common Medical Abbreviations
There are a number of standard medical abbreviations that can be used to save room (see below).  Most of these are international in scope and acceptance, but not all.  Pay close attention to the use of upper and lower case letters in the abbreviation.  Extraneous words should be left out if possible.  For example, it's not necessary to engrave 'Taking Coumadin'.  Just the word 'Coumadin' is sufficient.  And, rather than engraving 'Allergic to Penicillin', just say 'No Penicillin'. The same is true for food allergies.  If you're allergic to nuts, just say 'No Nuts'.  If you want to say that the patient has no allergies whatsoever, that can be abbreviated 'NKA'.  'No procedures in left arm' can be abbreviated as 'No Proc's L Arm'.

See Other Side
If any diagnosis or allergy information is being engraved on the back of a medical bracelet and the medical id would have to be removed from the wrist in order to see the back side, it's best to add the words 'See Other Side' on the front.  It may use up a line of engraving, but it helps to insure that the paramedic will know that there's more medical information