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We learnt from our previous blog about medical identifiers and today, we take it a step further and explore why it is important to register for medical identifiers.

Ruth Goble, Operations Executive at MedicAlert Foundation of Southern Africa, and Avraham Lange from St John EMS Paramedic Ambulance Services unpack why we should encourage members of the public to register for medical identifiers.

Breaking The Taboo

According to Lange, there shouldn’t be a “medical taboo” or embarrassing condition in 2021. It is irrelevant because when your life hangs in the balance, it does not matter what people think or have to say.

“The consequences of not having a medical identifier could result in delayed or incorrect treatment in the event of an emergency, as you may not be able to communicate the necessary details at this time”, warns Goble.

Lange adds that medical identifiers make the process of saving a patient’s life in an emergency much easier. Medical identifiers are vitally important, specifically in cases where patients are unable to speak for themselves. Sometimes you may be confronted with a patient who may be presenting symptoms that are not ‘textbook cases’.

Who Should Register For A Medical Identifier?

Goble advises that individuals with the following conditions and/or circumstances should register for a medical identifier:

  • any type of hidden medical condition.
  • any allergies.
  • any type of implant (pacemaker, heart valve, organ transplant, joint replacement, etc.).
  • chronic disease and/or take regular medication.
  • want blood type to be noted.
  • have a living will or wish to be an organ/body donor.

Medical Conditions That Require A Medical Identifier

“Allergies, Asthma, Epilepsy, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Heart Conditions, Situs Inversus, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Autism, Haemophilia, and other Blood disorders are just some of the medical conditions for which you should be wearing a medical identifier for”, Goble highlights. 

Rallying Behind Medical Identifiers

Many public hospitals have programs that encourage patients to obtain a MedicAlert emblem

According to Lange, healthcare professionals play a vital role in communicating the importance of these identifiers. ‘’Whether it is the nursing staff at a primary care institution or general practitioners who are diagnosing patients with these conditions – we’re relying on the medical fraternity to be the ambassadors and advocates for these types of identifiers.” Goble, who advocates for additional channels such as social media and mainstream media, urges those who already wear an identifier to also encourage others who may need identifiers to obtain one.

Lange shares the sentiment that it remains commercially difficult to sell these identifiers as a large majority of the population still do not see their use or need and urges authorities and the public at large to advocate for their usage and normalisation.

If you would like to register for a MedicAlert identifier it can be obtained by completing an application form with the details to be recorded on the emblem and MedicAlert’s database.

This can all be done online at www.medicalert.co.za or by obtaining the forms from their admin office (0214610000 or info@medicalert.co.za).