For many years, tattoos have been a way of expressing one’s beliefs, what they like, what they stand for, and more. Now a few people in the United States are using tattoos for a different purpose. This purpose is practical and can be potentially lifesaving and can warn first responders, or EMT technicians, about important medical conditions. One such case is a pathologist from Kansas City who has a tattoo in the middle of his chest that says “No CPR” so paramedics will see it and not use CPR to save his life.
Some of these medical tattoos are taking the place of the bracelets and necklaces that lists a person’s allergies, end-of-life wishes, or chronic diseases. Unfortunately medical tattoos do not appear to carry much legal weight and it is not clear if a paramedic trying to save a very ill patient could legal hone a request such as the one on the pathologist’s chest.
One woman in Nashville, Michigan kept breaking her bracelet that identified her as a diabetic so she now has a small three and a half inch tattoo on her left forearm that identifies her as a diabetic Type 1 with the medical symbol too. It also states that she is allergic to aspirin and penicillin.
In the guidelines of The American Medical Association they do not specifically address medical tattoos but in time doctors are hoping that changes. According to one doctor who has been lobbying to get guidelines in place regarding medical tattoos state that they should be uniform in size and information plus be placed in the same area of the body so the paramedics would know where to look.