I worked in a hospital emergency department for several years and made an observation.
Health professionals and first responders could so much easier learn important medical information about an unconscious person, such as those I worked with in that environment crisis.
How are we alerted to a patient’s vital (but confidential) medical information sooner rather than after life-saving choices have pre-empted everything?
It occurred to me that, in many urgent clinical experiences, information about allergies and chronic illnesses is not readily available and time is truly of the essence.
So, I have thought about the issue a fair bit and may have an idea that could help.
There are many first responders and emergency personnel active in our communities and critical incidents are many, too.
Wouldn’t it be helpful if a permanent (tattooed) symbol were placed in one of the several key locations on the body that patients are always examined when they are unconscious?
A person found without any way of communicating could easily have vital health information and personal legacy wishes.
Wishes, such as organ donation (a small recycling symbol, possibly with the words “organ donor).”
For a chronic illness, a cadecus (medical symbol) could be attached to a confidential data base, as is done with pharmacy information now.
The data base could only be accessed by authorized persons for the sole purpose of saving a life.
If the data base were province-wide, time, and possibly a life, could be saved.
This action would only be for those who have medical information that must be shared with medical people as quickly as possible such as diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy, allergies (a very important one), certain medications or whatever is appropriate.
This symbol, used consistently, would assist first response personnel and bystanders and may also be helpful to trigger family and caregivers when an emergency arises.
Colleen Crossley has been a registered nurse for 45 years.