Saturday, February 11, 2012

Medic Alert Bracelets: Do they work?

Three weeks ago my sister Kat went into anaphylactic shock.

I knew, without question, that a phone call at 3:30am meant someone was in trouble. Fortunately, she was already at the hospital recovering and her friend was by her side; the baby was due to wake up for a feed so it was close to 5:30 by the time I got to her.

Her reaction came on slowly, over a few hours and although she knows she’s allergic to hazelnuts and latex, she has still been unable to determine exactly what caused the reaction. She was in pretty rough shape and home from school for a week, though I think she’s pretty much recovered now.

Anaphylaxis is scary. I hope the boy will never have to fully experience it, however it’s a very real fear. Almost immediately after we found out the boy was allergic to peanuts, we got him a medic alert bracelet that he wears at all times. It provides peace or mind that regardless of the situation, the boys’ information will always be close at hand to those that would need it.

That belief is currently under review.

Although she was unable to talk, no one checked my sister for a medic alert bracelet. Despite her barely conscious, oxygen deprived state she waved her medic alert at the nurse who repeatedly pushed Kat’s arm away without a second glance.  She was a the hospital and NO ONE checked her for a medic alert bracelet.

Three weeks later and she still has a rash on her arm from the latex tourniquet used to start her IV; a minor reaction to a small but unnecessary action. If someone had checked her for a medic alert, they would have known to keep everything latex-free.

I can’t help but be disappointed. I always believed that wearing a medic alert was a proactive move; a medically recognized way to keep medical information is available, regardless of consciousness. But now I’m not so sure, Kat tells me this is the second time she's been to the hospital and no one checked her for a medic alert.

As a parent of a peanut allergic child, I NEED to believe that wearing a medic alert will help keep my boy safe.  I must stay strong and I can't allow my faith to be shaken; anaphylaxis is scary enough as is.

Do you or your family member wear a medic alert bracelet?  Do you know someone whose live was saved by their medic alert bracelet?  Or alternately, do you know someone else whose medic alert bracelet was ignored?