Have you considered a tattoo as medical ID? if so

If tattoo’s are picked as a form of medical ID I recommend having multiple ones tatted on both arms in multiple areas so when medics are going to start an IV of D10 or administer D50, have tats placed at the bend of your arm, top of you forearm and on the top of your hand on both sides because those are the most common IV sites selected, so a total of 6 tats saying DIABETIC and just maybe they will be seen.


I was curious what they might look like so I googled a few - kudos to the artists.

Zero tattoos. Never. I’m an active person, jogging, hiking, swimming, paddling, fishing, outdoors everything. I’ve had a medical ID for T1D around my neck for more than 50 years and have never lost one.

If I need to update the ID with the new medical information I just order a new one. What are you going to do with your tattoo? Will the fine print be readable in 30 years?

@wadawabbit , @EvieFire , @theNoz , @elizabethm , @rs3880 ,

Dorie, thanks for Googling. I guess it it is time for me to share. When EMS got started in the 1960s and 1970s, Medic Alert Foundation found a niche and filled it. I was working in EMS in the field and in EMS education & curriculum for many years. The question of tattoos has been in discussion for at least 50 years. Some of the greatest minds in EMS education & law have determined tattoos are art and shed no testamentary intent related to medical care. Two of the greatest, James Page, JD of California & Norm Lawson, JD of Kentucky, lawyers in EMS worked with the legislatures & regulatory writers in the USA & internationally. The bottom line is an EMT, paramedic, nurse, or physician trusting a tattoo is on poor footing.

When this thread first appeared 8 days ago, I posted on an international EMS forum about tattoos as medical alert devices. Not counting the USA, posts from Australia, UK, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Russia, & Qatar were unanimous in comments against tattoos.

Noz, I believe you have made up your mind. Evelyn, for you and you mom, a tattoo would be nice skin art lacking any medical alert benefit. Bill & MIke, thanks for your input. Elizabeth, pumps may be detached in traumatic events. The CGM may be felt and POSSIBLY recognized in the ER.

SUMMARY: Tattoos are skin art. Road rash may leave ambiguous messages. EMS & ERs are trained they have no bearing on care.

Concern, is those with metal allergies. There are synthetic materials for medic alert IDs.

Hope I have iced this cake… Bill, my NREMT # was <1400.

1 Like

@987jaj thank you for the icing. It occurred to me when I posted the pics that the size might cause people to think “Great - no way anyone can miss that!” when my intent was to show they’re not exactly discrete. I don’t make a point of hiding my diabetes but I don’t broadcast it over a loudspeaker either as these do visually. And as you say, since they’re not the standard EMS checks for, it strikes me as overkill.
Anyway, thank you as always for sharing a professional’s expertise. I have a few decorative fun tats. For medical I wear a Medic Alert and just ordered a MA Smart ID card.

1 Like

Hello J, my South Carolina EMT Intermediate number was 17**, wow, that number was low back in the day. My NREMT number was A1620**.

1 Like

Bill, my NREMT # was first issued before the A was put infront to distinguish between Basic, Intermediate, & Paramedic. Remember the Motorola Orange Box telemetry radios from the days of Johnny & Roy? Another box to carry.

Did you work anywhere near the SRP?

My time as an EMT basic was in the early 80’s in which the lifepak 3 was common. Heavy but served its purpose. I ran EMS in WV and SC in the 19 years of volunteering.

1 Like

@987jaj , for me the ice was on this cake many cake tiers ago, yes. I am still struggling with how to avoid chains and anything else that my skin will be unhappy about, but I’m thinking on it. I’ve reviewed the Medic Alert options, and in the end there just isn’t a good one for me. The issue comes in how to affix the medallion I choose, if that’s what it comes to, so that it doesn’t touch me, nor to imprint into my skin, and whatever it is attached to doesn’t have stitching or hardware. Mulling a plain leather strap with no stitching or hardware, affix ends and medallion with… generous amounts of epoxy, maybe. Still cogitating.

I think when I first brought up the subject, despite the last 20 or so years of more present-day acceptance of skin art I was still passively remembering one of my favorite HS teachers, and her tattoo from the concentration camp 30-35 years earlier, still quite clear and readable by the time she showed it to us. Which conveys, I hope, some idea how wild I was [NOT] about getting any tattoo at all. I brought this up looking for an argument against, and you’ve been providing that in spades.

1 Like

When researching ID’s a short time ago I read that EMTs report medical alert tattoos are most often unnoticed by them. Can’t cite source about EMTs but I had considered getting tattoo as well. I know it’s foolish but I had stopped wearing necklace years ago. I am considering going back to necklace.