Since 1956, people with medical disorders have worn bracelets and necklaces to communicate their conditions to emergency healthcare providers in the event that they are unable to speak. Historically, medical alert bracelets have provided information about specific issues, such as diabetes, epilepsy, and drug allergies. Today, the conditions a tag might report are more wide-ranging. In an emergency, these medical identification tags can provide pertinent information to healthcare personnel and prevent significant medical errors in treatment.
Dr. Marion Collins and his daughter, Linda, invented the medical alert bracelet following a medical emergency and a close call in 1953. At 14 years old, Linda experienced a severe cut, and her uncle rushed her to a nearby hospital. With her parents out of town, the medical staff was unaware of her allergy to the tetanus antitoxin. As per hospital protocol, the staff performed a skin test before injecting the full dose of tetanus. This small amount of tetanus caused Linda to go into anaphylactic shock. Dr. Collins and his daughter recognized that there should be some way to let healthcare personnel know about a patient’s medical condition if they were unable to do so. They designed a bracelet in 1956 and later established a foundation and a 24-hour emergency phone service for their members and first responders.
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