Medical history needs/abbreviations for sports ID wrist strap?
August 2, 2020 6:29 AM   Subscribe

I’m about to get one of those wrist straps with emergency information to wear when I’m running or cycling, so emergency responders can assist me better if I get hit by a car or whatever and I’m unconscious. Should I get my psychiatric and thyroid medical history on there, or do they not need to know that? If they do, how do I abbreviate it?

So yeah, I’m finally getting around to updating my RoadID. Last time I got one, I was able to cheerfully engrave it with “NKDA/NO MED HX,” but things are different now. At least I can keep the NKDA.

Now, I have hypothyroidism and a few psychiatric conditions, and I take lots of meds. I would think EMTs don’t care about the actual diagnoses, but do they care about the general history and, like, possible interactions with whatever they might be treating me with?

Can/should I abbreviate something like “psychiatric history?” What about the hypothyroidism?

I guess a broader question is, what do emergency responders really need to know about medical histories, and how can they be expressed in as few letters as possible?

I see you can engrave a short URL on the strap so responders can look up more detailed information, but I can’t imagine that’s useful in an emergency situation — or is it? I’m also concerned about maintaining that information and keepIng it accurate as my medications change.

I’m definitely engraving my full name, city, and spouse’s phone number. I don’t have a secondary emergency contact because I don’t have any other suitable friends or family, so that gives me a little more space for medical information if I need it.

Sorry, I really don’t know anything about emergency response to traumatic events like being hit by a car, or passing out on the street from some unforeseen medical thing, or whatever. I’m also pretty sure I’m overthinking this!
posted by sock puppet du jour to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This doesn't exactly answer your question, but Road ID lets you set up an online profile with the contact info for that on the wristband, so responders can get more information. You might want to put the immediately necessary stuff on the wristband and the stuff that would be important 12/24 hours later online. More info.
posted by adamrice at 6:47 AM on August 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Specific to your medications being listed, many communities have what is called a health information exchange (HIE) which is a central database with important medical information like allergies and medications. It is accessible in emergencies and by medical folks in general so they often will already have your medical information available to them
posted by eleslie at 6:51 AM on August 2, 2020

If you have an iPhone you can set up a Medical ID in the Health app that'll be available on the lock screen. This lets you document a full medical history. You could then refer to that on your bracelet.
posted by trappist system at 7:30 AM on August 2, 2020

Focus on things that matter in the first 30 minutes. In a trauma situation, EMTs will be mostly focused on things like CPR and bleeding. They won't be futzing around with finding you in an online database. So if you are DNAR, or don't accept blood products, put that on the bracelet too. Giant letters. In my mind, that should take priority over anything else, including your emergency contact number or even your name.

If you have a condition that puts you at higher risk of getting disoriented or collapsing (cardiac arrhythmia, some forms of epilepsy, insulin dependent diabetes [IDDM], etc), that would be good to know immediately; by training, EMTs assess for all that anyway, but might as well as speed up the process. Adrenal insufficiency/Addison's should be flagged, too, if applicable -- it's pretty uncommon. I would not think hypothyroidism or psychiatry history falls under that category; and sadly if a Trauma Male/Female comes in with EMT report of "found down, psych hx," the people taking care of you are going to make potentially inappropriate assumptions, until you or your emergency contact is able to tell them more.

As soon as you get to the emergency department, anything metal will be cut off your body so you can be pan-scanned. The bracelet, your wallet, and any other potentially identifying info, will be given to a social worker or a medical student so they can figure out who you are. That's where the online database comes in handy. You can put your med list, your diagnoses, etc. there, and keep it updated over time.

So I'd probably do something like:
[DNAR/no transfusions if applicable, all caps/big font if possible]
Name, Date of Birth
[Epilepsy/IDDM/arrhythmia/Addison's, if applicable]
Emergency number
Database URL
posted by basalganglia at 8:07 AM on August 2, 2020 [13 favorites]

Basalganglia makes great points. The first 30 minutes or so is going to be focused on stabilizing you with ATLS (Advanced Trauma Life Support) and ACLS (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support). Assuming your hypothryoidism is well-controlled this is not something that we need to know right away.

Psychiatric history is similar with some important caveats. If you're taking an older antidepressant drug like a MAOi (Monoamine oxidase inhibitor) such as Marplan, Nardil, or Ensam, WE NEED TO KNOW! These drugs can have potentially fatal interactions with certain anesthetics and medications we give to help maintain blood pressure.

Otherwise, NKDA and a URL for stable, chronic medical issues is perfect, and frankly more than we get for most people who roll in the trauma bay.
posted by reformedjerk at 9:19 AM on August 2, 2020 [6 favorites]

Thanks very much! Good answers, all. I’ll go ahead and get the URL — good to know it’ll be useful.

basalganglia— I especially appreciate your comment about emergency responders making assumptions if I have a reference to psych history on the band. It’s true — doctors blame my complaints on psych meds and generally take me less seriously all the goddamn time.
posted by sock puppet du jour at 9:42 AM on August 5, 2020

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