A medical bracelet is a form of medical jewelry. It gives healthcare professionals important information if you can’t communicate.

image of a silver medical alert bracelet Share on Pinterest
Getty Images/Vstock LLC

Many people with diabetes, severe allergies, or chronic health conditions wear medical bracelets. These bracelets are medical jewelry that can help first responders or healthcare professionals instantly know about any health conditions or concerns you have if you can’t currently communicate.

Medical ID bracelets differ from medical alert systems in key ways.

You wear a medical bracelet around your wrist. The makers engrave it with your identity and health conditions or concerns. It helps first responders or healthcare professionals know how to help you right away if there’s an emergency.

Unlike medical alert systems, they don’t send alerts or signals to doctors or caregivers if you have a medical emergency.

Medical bracelets may include info like:

  • allergies
  • medical conditions
  • medications taken
  • implanted devices
  • any other important medical information
  • your address
  • whether you are an organ donor
  • advanced directives

Manufacturers usually make medical bracelets from different kinds of materials. They can be plastic, metal, rubber, or another material.

Did you know?

A child’s near-fatal brush with anaphylactic shock led to the creation of medical jewelry. In 1953, then-14-year-old Linda Collins cut herself while playing with friends. Healthcare professionals stitched her up and gave her a tetanus shot, which led to a nearly fatal reaction.

Her father, Dr. Marion Collins, later worked with a jeweler to fashion the first medical bracelet giving information about his daughter’s allergies. He and his wife, Chrissie Collins, later set up the nonprofit MedicAlert Foundation.

Was this helpful?

People with life threatening conditions such as heart problems or diabetes often wear medical jewelry such as bracelets or necklaces.

The jewelry may warn first responders against using medications or procedures that may interact with your current medication or worsen your condition.

You might choose to wear one if you have severe allergies, take several medications, or have an ongoing condition.

A 2017 review of studies found that vague or incorrect information on medical bracelets could lead to worse healthcare outcomes. The study authors strongly suggest talking with a healthcare professional before deciding on a medical ID. They also suggest discussing which information to include.

However, many health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommend them when used properly.

A medical bracelet lets first responders know conditions you have that may impact care.

It may also tell them your name or address and whether you have a do not resuscitate order (DNR). If you have a DNR, it means you have decided that you do not want CPR or other life saving measures if your heart stops or you stop breathing.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) recommends them for people with Alzheimer’s who might wander. The NIA also recommends a medical alert system.

You may benefit from a medical bracelet if you have one of many chronic conditions or severe allergies.

Some conditions include:

  • heart disease
  • seizure disorders
  • diabetes

Most people wear a medical bracelet most or all of the time. Talk with your healthcare professional about what’s right for you.

Manufacturers offer a range of medical bracelets for men, women, and children. They may look like classic gold or silver jewelry, smart watches, or children’s watches.

The price of a medical bracelet varies by brand and material. They can cost anywhere from $20 to more than $1,000.

Here are some answers to common questions about medical bracelets.

How is a medical bracelet different from a medical alert system?

A medical alert system sends a distress signal if you have an emergency and can’t call someone. Alert systems are monitored and come in various forms.

Medical ID bracelets don’t send a signal. You wear them on your wrist, and they communicate your identity and health concerns in writing if you can’t speak.

What information can I include?

You can list information such as current conditions, medications, name, address, and whether you have an advanced directive or DNR.

Does a doctor have to approve a medical bracelet?

You aren’t required to have a doctor approve your order or what information you include, but it’s a good idea.

Missing, wrong, or confusing information could complicate your care in an emergency and lead to worse outcomes.

A medical alert bracelet is a piece of jewelry engraved with important information for emergency workers in case you can’t speak. That information can include chronic health conditions, allergies, medications, implants, and whether you want CPR performed on you.

Unlike medical alert systems, they don’t send a signal to healthcare professionals if you are having an emergency.

Talk with a healthcare professional about whether it might be beneficial for you to wear a medical ID bracelet and what information you might want to include. Putting inaccurate or irrelevant information could interfere with the emergency response.