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How to alert medical providers about a drug allergy

An adverse drug reaction can be frustrating or unpleasant for most, but a true drug allergy can be absolutely life-threatening. If you have a serious drug allergy, it's important to carry something on you that will alert medical providers to the issue if you're unable to do it yourself. It could save your life!

These days, you have a number of choices when it comes to providing first responders and hospital doctors with the information they need in an emergency. However, not all of your options may be equally effective.

Here are some things you should keep in mind about each choice:

Alert bracelets and other jewelry

Medical alert bracelets and necklaces are a time-honored convention -- and that makes them very useful in emergencies. Simply get the words, "Allergic to: (the name of the drug or drug)" engraved on your bracelet or necklace is enough.

Since doctors and medics are accustomed to looking for medical alert jewelry, this is always your safest bet if your allergy is serious. The only drawback is that a piece of jewelry can break or fall off, especially if you're in an accident.

Wallet cards

A wallet card is essentially a printable version of a medical alert bracelet. You can obtain pre-printed cards through a variety of free online services or create your own.

Type -- don't write -- the information onto the card before you print it, if possible. Put it on a bright piece of cardstock so that it stands out when you tuck it in your wallet.

An advantage here is that you can stick the card in your wallet and forget about it. There's no worry you'll forget to wear it and less chance of losing it. Most first responders also think to look for these, because they're very common.

Tattoos

Medical tattoos are growing in popularity. Some people appreciate the fact that they can't forget or lose their medical alert. Others feel like tattoos help raise awareness about various medical conditions.

Unfortunately, there's no uniform design for tattoos serving as medical alert and doctors aren't accustomed to looking for them. They may also misread the symbolism -- which could leave you in danger.

Even if you give a medical provider clear information about your drug allergy, mistakes can happen. If a doctor or medic injures you through negligent care, it's important to learn more about your rights.

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